By Glory Msowoya, MANA
Government, through the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has developed a strategy which will guide the implementation of a ban on thin plastics which will require about US$302,072 (an equivalent of K225 million).
In August last year, Supreme Court of Appeal gave government an order to implement the ban following an appeal by the plastics industry on grounds that they were not properly consulted on the implications of the ban and the harm it would cause to their businesses.
Currently thin plastics are still available on the market and Malawians are still using them despite the ban.
On the progress to make the ban effective, Director of Environmental Affairs, Taonga Mbale said currently government has drafted a strategy which would help the ban to be more effective in the country.
“The strategy intends to sensitize communities on the ban of thin plastics and use of environmentally friendly alternative products, strategize with other law enforcement agents on the enforcement of the ban and to ensure that manufactures, importers, distributors and consumers comply with the ban,” she said.
Mbale cited resource constraints, poor commitment from concerned partners and limited availability of alternative technologies as some of the major factors fueling the delay in the full operation of a ban of thin plastics in the country.
“Implementation of the environment management plastic regulations requires concerted efforts, commitment and participation of many stakeholders at national, district and community level. Mindset or behavioral change within the public is necessary,” the Director said.
Mbale said currently the department was in the process of procuring additional monitoring equipment for measuring of the thickness of plastic sheets during monitoring exercises.
“It has been a challenge to make a process of inspecting the market without necessary equipment and make a decision to confiscate plastic papers without measuring,” she added.
Government first announced the ban on manufacturing and usage of thin plastics in 2015 but the decision was challenged in court by some local plastic manufacturing companies.