UNIDO and Japan to support Egypt with alternative approach to single-use plastics production and consumption
VIENNA, 9 March 2021 – Masaki Noke, Ambassador of Japan to Egypt, and Bassel El Khatib, Director and UNIDO Representative of the Regional Hub in Egypt, have signed an exchange of notes as a joint commitment to promote circular economy practices in Egypt’s single-use plastics value chain in order to reduce plastic waste leaking into the environment.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment, and Nevine Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry, as well as a number of other senior governmental officials.
Egypt’s plastic industry has made significant contributions to the country’s economic development and the growth in various key sectors, including packaging, healthcare, the consumer durables and the automotive industries, among others. However, plastic, especially single-use plastic products like bags and packaging, is not properly disposed of when no longer needed and is causing a range of problems including a negative impact on tourism, contributing to flash floods due to clogged sewer systems, and blocking agricultural land drainage systems.
The project will support government efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste leaking into the environment by demonstrating alternative greener approaches through technical assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and working to raise awareness of existing sustainable plastic production and consumption patterns among stakeholders, producers, and consumers. This multi-level approach is expected to support the development of policies, regulations, and economic tools that will facilitate the adoption of greener processes, and sourcing and business models within the single-use plastic value chain.
During Japan’s Presidency of the G20 in 2019, the “Osaka Blue Ocean Vision”, which aims to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, was shared. To support it, Japan launched the “Marine Initiative” to advance effective actions to combat marine plastic litter at a global scale. As part of this initiative, with funding from Japan and in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UNIDO has been conducting a plastic value chain study in Egypt to explore the possibility of introducing sustainable technological options such as alternative materials, packaging technology and recycling technology. Today’s signing is the result of the successful completion of this research.
The project will contribute to UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) for Egypt, launched in February 2020, which aims at achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development. The PCP is formulated around six components, namely: industrial policy and governance; investment promotion; green industry; smart cities and sustainable industrial parks; value chains; and mainstreaming the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
At the signing ceremony, the Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, stated, “This agreement expresses the joint cooperation between the Government of Egypt, UNIDO and the Government of Japan. It will promote the circular economy and preserve the environment with a focus on integrating the private sector and SMEs into this field, which will support the economic development in our country.”
The Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad, said, “This project came after years of hard work towards reducing the consumption of single-use plastic products in Egypt. This sector still faces many challenges, on top of which is the necessary legislation and financial services provided to SMEs in this sector, hence the importance of this project.”
The Minister highlighted a number of success stories of SMEs and entrepreneurs who work on designing and producing innovative products to replace single-use plastic products.
Nevine Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry, said, “This project reflects the strategic cooperation with UNIDO within the framework of the PCP which is being implemented over the next five years. The project is in line with the national priorities of greening the industry. The government issued a decree to stop providing financial services for single-use plastic manufacturers, as they have a significant negative impact on the environment; at the same time, technical support services will be provided to these projects to shift towards environmentally friendly alternatives.”
In his remarks, Ambassador Noke said, “The Japanese government has tirelessly promoted the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – with cooperation of industry and citizens since the 1990s. Plastic packages and bottles in Japan are now known to have most waste-free designs. I am sure technology transfer through this assistance will lead to concrete actions that will protect the bountiful sea around Egypt for future generations. I also hope this project will act as a catalyst for Egypt’s plastic industry to become a new engine of growth in the post-coronavirus era and when the efforts to achieve a circular economy are accelerating around the globe.”
Director and UNIDO Representative in Egypt, Bassel Al Khatib, said, “We appreciate Japan’s continuous support to UNIDO and Egypt. This project is part of the green industry component of the PCP Egypt. This component aims to increase productivity and reduce the negative environmental impact on the Egyptian manufacturing sector. The new project will follow an integrated framework to enable the green transition of single-use plastics production and consumption, combining regulation, institutional support, firm-level support, new technologies, and skills enhancement for sustainable manufacturing. This will help with achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Egypt.”