In the Event of International Plastic Bag Free Day 

A Position Paper Titled “Tackling Plastic Pollution in Palestine and Globally”

Prepared by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)

3 July 2024

Introduction: Plastic pollution represents a severe environmental threat affecting ecosystems, wildlife, and human health globally. This position paper addresses critical issues surrounding both global and local plastic consumption and pollution, with a particular focus on the situation in Palestine in conjunction with International Plastic Bag Free Day.

Background: International Plastic Bag Free Day International Plastic Bag Free Day, observed annually on July 3rd, is a global initiative aimed at curtailing the use of single-use plastic bags. This effort helps reduce pollution and protect natural habitats while encouraging individuals, communities, and governments to adopt sustainable alternatives and support environmentally-friendly policies.

Global Context: Plastic production has skyrocketed from 0.50 million metric tons in 1950 to 400.3 million metric tons in 2022, primarily driven by the demand for single-use products. This dramatic increase has led to profound environmental degradation, with less than 10% of plastic waste being recycled globally. Each year, millions of tons of plastic waste accumulate in natural environments, posing serious threats to biodiversity and public health.

Impact on Environment and Health: An estimated 700 species, including those endangered, are adversely affected by plastic pollution. Animals often ingest plastic or become entangled in it, which can result in fatal injuries. Additionally, microplastics—tiny plastic particles—have been detected in oceans, soil, and even the air, presenting serious health risks. These particles are consumed by marine life, leading to physical harm, reproductive issues, and biochemical stress. When humans consume seafood contaminated with microplastics, they may ingest harmful chemicals that disrupt endocrine systems, potentially resulting in long-term health effects such as inflammation, genotoxicity, and an increased risk of chronic diseases. Furthermore, microplastics accumulate in agricultural soils, demonstrating key pathways through which plastics are entering the food chain and exacerbating their harmful impacts on both health and the environment.

Plastic Pollution in Palestine: In Palestine, insufficient waste management infrastructure and ongoing political challenges significantly exacerbate plastic pollution. Plastics account for about 16.4% of municipal solid waste in the West Bank and 14.0% in Gaza. The breakdown of plastic waste generation by sector is as follows:

  1. Households: Approximately 45-50% of the total solid waste originates from residential sources.
  2. Construction and Industrial Sectors: These sectors generate about 20-25% of the waste.
  3. Commercial/Institutional Sectors: Contribute 25-30% to the overall waste volume.

The scarcity of recycling facilities, coupled with the restrictions imposed by the occupation, such as limited access to waste management services, leads to significant environmental and health challenges.

Solutions and Innovations:

Addressing plastic pollution requires a comprehensive approach that follows the Modern Approach to Reducing and Managing Waste, 5 R’s principles:

  1. Refusing Single-Use Plastics: Enforcing strict regulations to minimize the production and use of single-use plastics. This step involves refusing unnecessary plastics and promoting policies that prevent their consumption.
  2. Reducing Plastic Use:
    • Promoting Biodegradable Plastics: Transitioning to biodegradable and compostable plastic alternatives to reduce the longevity of plastic pollution in the environment.
    • Education and Awareness: Conducting extensive campaigns to inform the public about the impacts of plastic pollution and the importance of reducing plastic usage along with recycling and waste reduction.
  3. Reusing and Repurposing:
    • Innovative Technologies: Developing and deploying new technologies to enhance plastic waste management and promote the reuse and repurposing of plastic materials.
  4. Recycling:
    • Enhancing Recycling Efforts: Increasing both the capacity and efficiency of recycling programs to ensure that plastics are recycled rather than discarded.

Sector-Specific Strategies in Palestine:

  • Industry: Implement stricter regulations on plastic waste and promote sustainable packaging innovations.
  • Agriculture: Support the adoption of biodegradable materials and practices to decrease reliance on traditional plastics.
  • Household: Encourage the use of reusable products and proper waste segregation through public education and incentives.

Recommendations for Action in Palestine:

  • Government Action: Strengthen legislation to reduce plastic production, introduction of polluter pays scheme, enforce a deposit system and laws, and improve waste management.
  • Community Engagement: Foster community-driven recycling initiatives and the use of environmentally friendly, degradable materials.
  • International Collaboration: Engage in global agreements and adopt international best practices to enhance local waste management strategies.

Responsible Entities:

  • Palestinian Ministry of Local Government
  • Environment Quality Authority
  • Municipal and local councils
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international partners
  • Schools, universities, and research centers
  • Private sector


Conclusion: Combating plastic pollution requires unified efforts from governments, businesses, communities, and individuals. Through strategic actions and innovative solutions, we can significantly reduce the environmental impact of plastics.



  • United Nations Environment Programme, “Confronting Plastic Pollution,” 2023.
  • Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Environment Quality Authority, “Plastic Pollution in Palestine,” 2023.
  • Ministry of Local Government, Palestine, “Data Book on Solid Waste Management,” 2023.
  • Statista, “Global Statistics on Plastic Production and Waste,” 2024.

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