Nov 21 - A law banning the production, use and commercialisation of plastic bags in Ivory Coast is set to take effect from November 23. It's being welcomed by many environmentalists but as Sonia Legg reports there are fears the law could damage the economy.
Collecting plastic bags from rubbish dumps provides Ouatarra Nourdine with a little extra cash. It's a perk of his job as a refuse collector in Abidjan. (SOUNDBITE) (French) OUATTARA NOURDINE, GARBAGE COLLECTOR SAYING: "We sell the plastic to supplement our salaries. We need the money for transport and food as our salaries aren't enough." Ouattara's enterprise is about to end. A ban on the production and commercial use of plastic bags is being introduced. The country's Prime Minister is Daniel Duncan. (SOUNDBITE) (French) DANIEL KABLAN DUNCAN, IVORY COAST PRIME MINISTER SAYING: "As you have all noticed, "Plastic bags have become a major problem in Abidjan. They are littered all over the streets, they clog the drainage systems, causing flooding. We need to find a way to stop this pollution, because plastic does not disappear within a year or two - it takes centuries." The new law is bad news for many manufacturers who rely on plastics for packaging. Hassan Cisse runs a company that sells water in plastic bags. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HASSAN CISSE, HEAD OF AQUA-IVOIRE FACTORY SAYING: "We're having to deal with a decision that came out of nowhere, a decision that's shocked us and will have repercussions across the sector. And I'm not sure it will change anything on an environmental level" The government wants firms to use bio-degradeable alternatives. It says the ban won't apply to all plastics - and is mainly aimed at bags for carrying water and shopping. Environmentalists largely welcome the move but some have reservations. Brice Delagneau runs the evironmental group Amistad. (SOUNDBITE) (French) BRICE DELAGNEAU, HEAD OF ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANISATION AMISTAD SAYING: "It's true plastic bags are a major source of pollution, but is the solution a complete ban? It might be better to recycle or re-use the bags. Our big problem is sanitary conditions - that's what we should be dealing with." The Ivory Coast isn't the first African nation to implement a plastic bag ban. Rwanda introduced one six years ago. How well it's enforced will be key - and most do accept there is a need to clean-up many parts of the country.