Plastic bags banned in parks

09 November 2018 | Environment

Visitors to national parks will be fined N$500 if found with any plastic bags in their possession.

This new regulation is with immediate effect and has already been published in the Government Gazette.

Meanwhile, a regulation providing for a levy on plastic shopping bags is expected to be finalised by the end of the month.

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta made the announcement on Tuesday when he gave an update in parliament on the progress being made on banning the use of plastic shopping bags in Namibia.

Shifeta said the regulations of the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975 to ban the use of plastic bags in protected areas had been amended.

This amendment was published in Government Gazette No. 6285. Failure to comply with this regulation will result in a fine of N$500.

Shifeta said the ministry was putting in place the necessary systems to enforce the ban.

A cabinet decision in August endorsed a proposal for the introduction of several measures to phase out the use of plastic shopping bags.

These measures include an environmental levy on plastic carrier bags, with 100% of the revenue accruing to the Environmental Investment Fund (ElF) for reinvestment in improved waste management practices.

They will also include a ban on the import and domestic production of plastic bags containing calcium carbonate and a ban on the use of plastic carrier bags in Namibia's protected areas.

“With regard to the introduction of a levy on plastic carrier bags, the ministry of was authorised to prepare a regulation in collaboration with the finance ministry,” Shifeta said.

He said this levy was in line with Section 26 of the Environmental Investment Fund Act, which allows the environment ministry to impose levies with concurrence from the finance ministry and upon recommendation of the EIF board.

Shifeta said consultations about the levy were held with the Namibia Trade Forum, retailers, industry and the Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Development.

“I am confident that we will finish this process by the end of the month before giving due notice in the Government Gazette. After considerable deliberations on this matter, we believe that the introduction of the levy will be a better measure than an outright ban on plastic bags, as it will take time to develop and bring in alternatives to plastic.

“Nonetheless, we are committed to phasing out the use of plastic bags in the country.”

Shifeta said the banning of plastic bags containing calcium carbonate was a significant step forward.

These bags are considered to be the most damaging to the environment because they cannot be recycled.

“We are in consultation with the finance ministry to see how best we can bring in a regulation to give effect to this ban. This work will be concluded by end of November,” Shifeta said.

These measures are also in line with the first implementation phase of the five-year National Solid Waste Management Strategy, which was launched in February.

“The introduction of these measures is part of a broader range of measures we are undertaking under the framework of this Strategy to strengthen the institutional, organisational and legal framework for solid waste management, install a widespread culture of waste minimisation and to expand recycling systems.

“The strategy also aims to implement formalised solid waste collection and management systems in all populated areas, including under the administration of regional councils, enforce improvements in municipal waste disposal standards and plan and implement feasible options for hazardous waste management,” he said.

“We are also working on an exciting project with the private sector to design and install mobile recycling stations across the country. We are also planning to have established new hazardous waste disposal sites by the final phase of the Strategy.”

ELLANIE SMIT

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