When it comes to plastic bag consumption, Morocco is second only to the United States – but that’s set to change as the nation just officially banned plastic bags. A new bill enacted by Morocco’s parliament bans importing, selling, distributing, and producing plastic bags – but some worry it could take years for people adhere to the law.

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Morocco’s 34 million residents use three billion plastic bags every year, according to the Moroccan Industry Ministry. The country banned black plastic bags in 2009, however the motion was only partially successful as authorities had a hard time stopping “informal production.”

Related: Scotland bans plastic bags, spares landfill 650 million bags in just one year

Mamoun Ghallab, founder of Moroccan sustainable development group MakeSense, told Al Jazeera “They do it to promote the image of Morocco as an environmentally friendly country, which is partly true, but not completely… If citizens are not aware of the concerns and the challenges we’re facing, things will go much slower. Everything begins and ends with the citizens.”

While Morocco is sometimes seen as a green country because of its focus on clean energy – the nation has built a massive solar plant and plans to reduce subsidies for fossil fuel companies – other sectors of the country aren’t so green. Waste is one issue; the World Bank said Morocco disposes of just 10 percent of waste in an “environmentally and socially acceptable manner.”

Yassine Zegzouti, president of Moroccan advocacy group Association Mawarid, told Al Jazeera the government has made efforts to enforce the ban – including investing money in educational TV spots – but that the “formal sector” would likely need four or five years to adhere to the law.

Industry Minister of Morocco Moulay Hafid Elalamy stated via Twitter there would be “several alternative solutions” to plastic bags, like fabric and paper bags.

Via Al Jazeera

Images via Zainub Razvi on Flickr and Esin Üstün on Flickr