Senegal - Bags more respectful of people and the earth
Forests and Climate - Committed to a beneficial environment for humans
In Senegal, Total decided to replace plastic bags with locally made paper bags in all of its service stations. Yves Crémieux, CEO of the company that produces them, tells the story.
In Senegal, plastic bags cause serious harm. They pollute the soil and water and harm animals which eat them. The public authorities cannot treat this waste, so the situation is getting worse. As I am living in this country for a long time, I could no longer stand watching this disaster unfold right before my eyes. So in 2009, in addition to the paper bags for industrial use that we’ve been producing and recycling since 1978, I decided to launch a range of small bags manufactured in our Rufisque factory south of Dakar. Total Sénégal immediately showed interest. In 2010, they banned plastic bags in their service stations in favour of our paper bags. They also conducted an advertising campaign encouraging the public to use them.
Many beneficial results
We could hire more workers thanks to this initial contract and the resulting visibility. Rufsac grew from 65 employees
to more than 100, all recruited locally. Since then, our customer portfolio has grown significantly, from 25 in early 2010 to 1,500 today. We mainly serve local customers, including pharmacies, department stores and restaurants. My employees are proud of providing a good alternative. And even though paper bags are more expensive than plastic ones, our customers are becoming increasingly motivated to reduce their environmental impact because, like me, they can see the harm caused by this pollution every day. They are also playing an active role in changing behaviours, which is well received by consumers. We’re proud to have led the way and to have Total’s trust. And what’s more, a law has just been adopted banning thin plastic bags in Senegal.