Since March 2017, thin plastic carrier bags have been banned at supermarket checkouts in Tunisia. This marks the beginning of the agreement negotiated in October 2016 by the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development under minister Riadh Mouakher and the Confederationa for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA).
Under the terms of the agreement, supermarkets – and this includes the big French hypermarket chains Monoprix and Carrefour – are now banned from handing out thin plastic bags at checkout. Alternatives are available in the form of plastic or textile carrier bags for which there is a fee.
The thin bags are, however, still permitted for fresh fruit and vegetables – including in supermarkets. Weekly markets and small retailers are similarly excluded from the ban. Critics in Tunisia are complaining that, since only a small portion of the bags originate in supermarkets, the majority of bags are not affected at all. The Ministry of the Environment has countered this with the argument that this measure is just a first step and further steps are under preparation.
Tunisia is adopting the same approach as a series of other countries, prompted by the huge number of plastics bags now visible in the environment. In another Maghreb country, Morocco, there is a strict plastic bag ban in effect since July 2016. In France, a ban on one-way plastic bags with a thickness of less than 50 µm has been in force at all shop tills since summer 2016. Turkey also followed suit a few days ago .