Plastic bags' days are numbered

06 June 2018 | Environment

Regulations to reduce the use of plastic bags in Namibia will be finalised within this financial year.

These measures may include the banning of plastic shopping bags or a tax on such bags.

Proposed measures are being discussed and will be announced as soon as the consultations are done.

This is according to environment minister Pohamba Shifeta, whose speech was read on his behalf at a World Environment Day event by environmental commissioner Teofilius Nghitila.

World Environment Day is marked annually on 5 June. This year's theme was 'Beating Plastic Pollution: If You Can't Reuse It, Refuse It'. Shifeta stressed that winning the war against plastic pollution must take centre stage when it comes to waste management.

He said all types of litter harm the environment and the quality of human life, and also make a bad impression on visitors.

“However, it is our view that plastic bags warrant particular attention and regulatory measures to curb their use.”

This is mainly because of their prevalence, visibility, durability and the harmful effects they have on livestock, wildlife, humans, aquatic life and the broader environment, said Shifeta.

According to him over 15 African countries have already introduced measures to either ban or tax the use of plastic carrier bags.

“These measures have had varying levels of success,” he said.

Shifeta said the ministry intended to learn from these countries' experiences and to introduce measures that would work in the Namibian context.

According to him the ministry has held constructive consultations with representatives of the retail sector on the proposed measures.

These proposals will be further discussed with other government ministries and interested stakeholders before regulations are introduced in line with the Environmental Investment Fund Act and the Environmental Management Act. “We are endeavouring to finalise this process within this financial year,” said Shifeta.

“These measures will be an important first step in efforts to beat plastic pollution but we are aware there will still be much to do.”

He said plastic has become a major feature of modern society since the 1960s because of its convenience and cost-effectiveness in transporting and storing goods. Globally it is estimated that five trillion plastic bags are used per year.

This equates to 160 000 plastic bags per second, of which less than 1% is recycled. “This begs the question, where does all this plastic end up? This is particularly worrisome if we consider the threats that plastic poses to human and environmental health,” said Shifeta.

He said plastic bags are lightweight and therefore can be carried far by the wind, even if they are disposed of at dumpsites.

“The bags get caught up in trees, bushes and fences and often float in water bodies.”

Research indicates that by 2050 the mass of plastic in the oceans will exceed the total mass of fish and that over 90% of the world's seabirds already have plastic in their stomachs, said Shifeta. He said this prevalence of plastic in the oceans creates concerns about the safety of eating fish, for example.

“Fish is a food source we generally consider to be healthy and safe, but if it is contaminated with plastic it can cause all sorts of risks to humans from cancer to strokes, hormonal imbalances and heart attacks.”

According to Shifeta the ingestion of plastic by livestock and wildlife results in similar risks for these animals and the humans that consume them. Shifeta added that there are many other types of plastic that need to be reduced, such as plastic bottles, excessive plastic packaging of products and drinking straws, to mention but a few.

According to him 2018 has already been a momentous year in terms of transforming waste management and promoting civic pride and anti-littering among citizens.

In February the National Solid Waste Management Strategy, which aims for Namibia to become the leading country in Africa in terms of standards of solid waste management by 2028, was launched.

He said the implementation of this strategy was already in full swing.

Shifeta added that Namibia also again demonstrated itself as a trendsetter in environmental protection with the first nationwide clean-up campaign that was held on 25 May.

ELLANIE SMIT

Similar News

 

Namibia on alert for new SA poaching tactics

1 day - 18 October 2018 | Environment

A Namibian anti-poaching organisation is warning Namibian game rangers to be aware of a deadly new tactic in South Africa where poachers have reportedly begun...

New wildlife bill coming

1 day - 18 October 2018 | Environment

The environment ministry aims to enact the Wildlife and Protective Areas Management Bill by early next year. A final national consultative meeting on the bill...

Namibians urged not to cut down trees

1 day - 18 October 2018 | Environment

Namibians have been urged not to cut down trees to reduce deforestation and improve food security in the country. In an effort to reduce deforestation...

US official under fire for Nam hunting photos

3 days ago - 16 October 2018 | Environment

A United States wildlife official is being pressured to resign after sharing photographs of a hunting trip in Namibia in which at least 14 wild...

Namibia calls for review on wildlife trade ban

4 days ago - 15 October 2018 | Environment

Namibia's environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has urged for a review on the blanket ban on the trade of wildlife products, including rhino horns and ivory,...

Vague environment act to be amended

4 days ago - 15 October 2018 | Environment

The office of the environmental commissioner is in the process of amending environmental regulations in order to make them less ambiguous to ensure successful prosecutions....

Light at the end of the tunnel

1 week ago - 12 October 2018 | Environment

A little more than a year after authorities launched a campaign to tackle the increasing rate of pangolin trafficking in Namibia, it has proven exceptionally...

Namibia 29th on wildlife index

1 week ago - 08 October 2018 | Environment

Namibia, along with other well-known African wildlife destinations, ranks surprisingly low on the newly-released Global Wildlife Travel Index, which lists the best countries in the...

NaDEET wins global award

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2018 | Environment

An environmental education organisation in Namibia is one of this year's winners of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)-Japan Prize on Education...

Outcry over black rhino trophy

2 weeks ago - 01 October 2018 | Environment

The hunting of Namibia's black rhino is back in the international spotlight with calls from conservation and animal welfare groups to cancel the import of...

Latest News

Nail errant nurses - Haufiku

11 hours ago | Health

Health ministry permanent secretary Ben Nangombe has issued a directive that no nurses may use their cellphones while on duty, and that no health facilities...

No peace for Cheryl's family

11 hours ago | Crime

The police are still working around the clock to catch the killer, or killers, of nine-year-old Cheryl Avihe Ujaha although there has been a lack...

Recruiting the best staff

11 hours ago | Supplements

Below are some tips for employers on how to go about this often arduous task.Improve your candidate poolCompanies that select new employees from the candidates...

Taking Namfisa to new and...

11 hours ago | Supplements

Octavia Tsibes As the deputy CEO of prudential supervision at the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa), Erna Motinga is responsible for strengthening its supervisory...

Our dismal public healthcare

11 hours ago | Columns

There appears to be no end in sight to the many and deep-seated problems at the heart of Namibia's public healthcare sector. It goes without...

A vivacious young woman

11 hours ago | Supplements

Born and raised in a small village called Kayira-yira, situated eight kilometres west of Rundu, Zonia worked very hard throughout her school years and moved...

Improving sustainability through change

11 hours ago | Supplements

Justicia Shipena Her key role is to help Namport deliver sustainable performance improvement by utilising people. Futher focusing on how change can influence, which includes...

Airport downgrade a major threat

11 hours ago | Transport

Analysts believe that if Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) is downgraded by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), it would lead to massive job losses,...

'Arrogant' Utoni under fire

11 hours ago | Government

Land reform minister Utoni Nujoma has been described as crude, dismissive and arrogant when it comes to dealing with the media.These were the sentiments of...

Load More