By Glory Msowoya, Mana:
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has developed a strategy guiding enforcement of a ban on thin plastics in the country.
In August 2019, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the government to implement the ban after an appeal by plastics’ industry players that they were not properly consulted on the implications of the ban and the harm it would cause to their businesses was thrown out.
Currently, thin plastics are available on the market and Malawians are using them despite the ban.
To enforce the ban, Director of Environmental Affairs, Taonga Mbale, said the government has drafted a strategy to ensure that the ban is more effective.
“The strategy intends to sensitise communities to the ban of thin plastics and use of environmentally friendly alternative products, strategise with other law enforcement agents on the enforcement of the ban and ensure that manufacturers, 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 delaying full enforcement of the ban.
“Implementation of the environment management plastic regulations requires concerted efforts, commitment and participation of many stakeholders at national, district and community level. Mindset or behavioural change within the public is necessary,” she said.
Mbale said the department will buy additional monitoring equipment to measure thickness of plastic sheets during inspections.
“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 said.
The 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.
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