There is a dichotomy here with waste management. Anything with any perceived value is never thrown away, things like tools, bikes, cars, mopeds etc are repaired 1000’s of times and never discarded, but anything without a value is discarded. This includes bottles, both glass and plastic, bags, wrappers, paper…waste food. These are dumped in situ – wherever they are finished with or used, they are dumped. So is recycling the answer?
One really annoying thing is that the glass bottles are generally smashed and left with shards of glass everywhere, especially on the beach. I have asked a few of the kids why they do this and they just say they do it for fun – they have no idea or thoughts of the consequences to wildlife or to other humans who may stand on the broken glass.
The government has put a ban on plastic bags which is positive, but the non plastic alternatives are now becoming just as bad. The ban has actually created a black market for plastic bags which are now being seen in the shops and souks again. Better alternatives need to be provided – even subsidised to remove the need to buy plastic bags.
The other problem is the annual floods which wash everything off the mountain villages down to the sea – plastic bottles come down in the thousands, along with every other bit of rubbish you can think of. The reason is that no waste management is being put in place in the villages (even if they are now being slowly introduced in the towns) and the rubbish is dumped in the dry river bed. The knowledge that each year the rubbish will be swept away does not seem to figure.
I personally litter pick a huge sack of waste each week from our small road and surrounding area around the house, only to see my neighbors dump their rubbish in the street again – even though they have watched me pick it all up. I have even had them say I am doing a great job, but they still just throw out the rubbish in the street.
However, there is some hope with the waste problem.
One of the surf and sport camps on the beach in our village is doing something about it. Every week, the attendees to the camp go along the beach and collect all the rubbish, which is then sorted and stored in separate areas.
Abdullah, the owner has worked out that there is money in the waste, provided it is sorted into types – he get a better price if it is. The labour to collect the rubbish is free, and the boys who collect the rubbish get to use the surf equipment and sports field in return for doing the work – a win win situation. Smart business sense really. He makes money for recycling with little or no cost – perfect.
Yesterday, the waste was collected from the last few months of beach cleaning. Tins and plastic bottles carry the most value so they are crushed by hand (or foot actually) to save space. The other plastic, bags and wrappers are compressed as much as possible into bales. Glass bottles seem to have little value or so it seems.
The mode of collection is also very green – a horse and cart is used. The cart was filled to the brim, there was so much waste the poor horse struggled up the hill, I think the cart is also due for recycling too.
I think this problem will exists for many years to come – education and changing years of habit will take time. I feel sure this will happen but I am also sure if Morocco wants to be a major tourist centre, it will have to happen quicker.
On a positive note, at some of the local beaches, waste bins are provided and waste wardens are doing a great job – beaches like Anza, Devils Rock, K25 and of course Agadir main beach are doing work to clean up each day, but it would be better if the rubbish was taken home rather than people just walking away and leaving it on the beach.