By Faith Nyasuguta
Estimates reveal that currently, about 80 thousand tonnes of plastic waste litter the seaside.
To avert the already bad situation, the state has now joined forces with local waste collectors, or barbechas, as they are known in order to clean up the country. For the majority, this activity is a full time job.
“I assure you that between 60-70% of the residents of this neighbourhood work in the collection of plastic. And in every place that collects waste like this, you will find people looking for plastic. The amount of plastic decreases in winter compared to summer when plastic bottles are overused” plastic collector Ridha Alaya claims.
According to Tunisian environmental associations, recycling is the only way to shrink plastic waste in the country.
In past days, the government had announced that it would ban single-use plastics by the end of 2021.
“The recycling process helps in the controlled disposal of waste and contributes to creating a green economy and reducing pollution, reducing CO2 emissions. The recycling process requires less energy than producing a new product”, Sami Ben Yahia says.
Sami Ben Yahia is the incumbent president of ACT’UP, an association that strives towards a cleaner Tunisia.
Seeking to understand why Tunisia is experiencing a plastic crisis, some experts have argued that it is a result of the deteriorating political and economic situation that has ravaged the North African country for the last decade.
“The reasons are many, such as the lack of a budget, a shortage of trucks for waste, in addition to a shortage of manpower”, Mehdi Jerbi, procurement official at ACT’UP explains.
On the daily, about 6,8 kilos of plastic are discarded on every kilometre of Tunisia’s beaches.
The country’s shore stretches for over 1 300 kilometres.