Plastic bag levy gazetted

12 August 2019 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

An environmental levy on plastic shopping bags has finally been gazetted and will amount to 50c per bag.

The new levy was published in the Government Gazette of 2 August, but according to the spokesperson of the finance ministry, Tonateni Shidhudhu, it must still be tabled in the National Assembly.

“It is gazetted, but not yet operational,” he said.

Shidhudhu further said that the 50c levy per bag is what retailers and shops are expected to pay to the government.

The proceeds will be channelled to the Environmental Investment Fund for investment in improved waste management.

The implementation of this levy will be done under the Customs and Excise Act of 1998, which is administered by the finance ministry.

“If they (retailers) want to charge more we have no control over that, as long as they pay the 50 cents per bag that they give to customers.”

Shidhudhu said the law does not restrict retailers from charging beyond the prescribed levy.

“The law is not aimed at generating money but to discourage the use of plastic bags,” he emphasised.

The finance ministry has said that recent charges on shopping bags introduced by Namibian retailers were their own initiative and did not form part of the environmental levy the government intended to introduce.

Some retailers are now charging up to N$1 per plastic bag.

The ministry said two outlets, namely Pupkewitz Megabuild and its subsidiary, Kaap Agri Namibia, voluntarily introduced the Break Free from Plastic Campaign, charging 50 cents per plastic carrier bag as of December 2018.

The Pupkewitz Group committed to this arrangement until Schedule 1 of the Customs and Excise Act is amended. The quarterly proceeds have been handed over to the government's Environment Investment Fund (EIF) since then, totalling N$60 000 to date.

The new levy will come in operation after it is approved by the National Assembly.