SA govt to review single-use plastic policy

08 July 2019 | International

The SA government is reviewing its policy on single-use plastics and intends to complete this process by the end of this financial year.

In a written parliamentary question, DA MP Annerie Weber asked Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy whether she intended to introduce legislation in the National Assembly to ban the use of single-use plastic.

Creecy didn't answer directly whether new legislation would be introduced.

She said provisions in the National Environment Management Act and the National Environment Management: Waste Act contained specific measures for the disposal of plastic products.

“It is a matter of public record that the management of plastics in the world generally, and in our own country, is sub-optimal,” reads Creecy's answer.

She referred to the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which stated that plastic would outweigh fish in the world's oceans by 2050 if action wasn't taken immediately.

“Consequently, this is an important area to which we must respond if we are to protect our oceans.”

She said the department had initiated a review of its current policy on managing plastic waste, and whether it was necessary to move in a new policy direction.

“This review includes discussions with the retail, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors as well as the paper and packaging industries on ways to combat the use of one time plastics and their disposal management,” reads Creecy's answer.

“We expect to conclude this process within the current financial year. At this point, we will make further announcements on our approach to this important matter.”

The financial year concludes at the end of March.

On Monday, New Zealand officially banned single-use plastic shopping bags and introduced hefty fines for businesses that continue to provide them, AFP reported.

Last month, Canada announced it would ban single-use plastics by 2021.

Last year, News24 reported that the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) had said that South Africans used between 30kg and 50kg of plastic per person per year.

That's significantly less than the 136kg and 139kg per person per year in the US and Europe respectively. But much of the plastic ends up in the ocean.

NEWS24