South Africa to import plastic waste to meet needs of the industry

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi can decide to take advantage of cleaning up plastic waste following South Africa’s plans to import plastic waste in order to meet the plastic industry’s needs.

Advertisement. Visit

A report by that country’s Daily Maverick online publication, South Africa — which also struggles to deal with its own waste — recycles only 14% of its plastic waste but the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) is opening up applications for the commodities import.

Daily Maverick’s report says the import of plastic waste will be regulated under the outlinings and mandate of the Basel Convention, which addresses the movement of hazardous waste between nations, DFFE Minister Barbra Creecy said in a parliamentary internal question paper.


Creecy is quoted as saying the Basel Convention has set up systems to handle the applications of plastic waste import.

“The 188 parties who signed the treaty are expected to state the use of the plastic being imported, as well as indicating proof of scarcity of plastic waste when looking to import waste into the country.


“The Basel Convention, which does not explicitly address plastic waste and its life cycle, was used by South Africa to defend it not joining an international treaty that addressed the life cycle,” says the report.

Last year, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera launched the National Clean-up Day under the theme ‘A Clean Environment: My right, My Responsibility’, aimed at promoting both organised and individual clean up events and volunteering to keep the outdoors clean.

The exercise was being celebrated on the second Friday of every month until it was put on hold as group activity following the nasty second wave of the CoVID-19 pandemic which hit the country in January.

Chakwera and Chilima launching the cleanup campaign last year

After launching it, joined by the First Lady Madame Monica Chakwera; the Vice-President Saulos Chilima; the British High Commissioner to Malawi David Beer and other high profile dignitaries, Chakwera addressed a gathering in Lilongwe, asking every Malawian to commit themselves to clean up their surroundings.

He had said there is need for mindset change, saying people do not care for their surroundings by disposing of their waste within their neighbourhoods.

Plastic waste is such a huge challenge the country faces that led the authorities to ban thin plastics but the decision was challenged in court by manufacturers.

Chakwera had promised that his administration will “soon completely stop the use of plastic bags and migrate to environmental friendly carrier bags to protect the environment and people’s lives”.