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

 

Emino lyevi kali shi epuko lyelelo lyUukwambi

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Environment

Elelo lyopamudhigululwakalo lyUukwambi Traditional Authority itali vulu okupewa uusama omolwa emino lyevi lyaaheli paveta ndyoka lya ningwa pIiheke yaNakele oshowo mOnanime, omahala ngoka ge...

Missing hiker alive and well

6 days ago - 20 May 2019 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT A 31-year-old Namibian, who went missing last week while hiking in a park in California, has been found alive and well. There was...

Stray lions kill three cattle

6 days ago - 20 May 2019 | Environment

ILENI NANDJATOTwo stray lions killed three cattle last week in the grazing area near the Ongandjera salt pan at Okakewa.Okakewa is situated near Amarika in...

Budget cuts bite parks

6 days ago - 20 May 2019 | Environment

The tourism ministry is experiencing major challenges with the maintenance and the upgrading of infrastructure in protected areas, due to budget cuts. Deputy tourism minister...

Environment ministry steps up inspections

6 days ago - 20 May 2019 | Environment

The environment ministry stepped up its inspections during the 2018/19 financial year, despite ongoing government financial woes, and issued 39 compliance orders to those in...

Behati fights for Namibia's rhino

1 week ago - 17 May 2019 | Environment

Supermodel Behati Prinsloo is back in her motherland in an effort to help save the rhino which in recent years has been increasingly targeted by...

Trophy hunting at death's door

1 week ago - 15 May 2019 | Environment

The financial contribution of trophy hunting to conservation in Africa is insignificant, and the practice could soon become an anachronism. According to a new...

Illegal wood valued at N$900k

1 week ago - 14 May 2019 | Environment

Illegally harvested wood to the value of N$895 551 was sold at public auctions during the 2018/19 financial year.This is according to a technical paper...

Wild animals put livestock, people at risk

1 week ago - 14 May 2019 | Environment

The ministry of environment and tourism has reported that many of the wild animals that escaped from Etosha National Park last few months have returned...

March against timber harvesting

1 week ago - 13 May 2019 | Environment

The Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS) held a peaceful demonstration against illegal timber harvesting in Windhoek on Saturday.The demonstration follows reports of illegal timber...

Latest News

10% water hike coming

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Disasters

The City of Windhoek has proposed a 10% water and 5% sewer tariff hike to come into effect in July. The City's recently announced...

Low earners excluded from drought...

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Disasters

Households with a combined income of more than N$2 600 will not qualify for state drought assistance, which has effectively excluded even low-level civil servants...

How did we get here?

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Opinion

How did we get to a situation, as a country, where our government is asking already struggling workers to donate 2% of the salaries as...

AMTA ends Fysal agreement

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Agriculture

Fysal Fresh Produce is to retrench 60 employees at the end of this month after its contract with the Agro-Marketing Trading Agency (AMTA) was terminated....

Geingob grills Nanso

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Education

The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leadership received a grilling from President Hage Geingob on Wednesday during a meeting to discuss a number of issues,...

Fallout over 2% tax

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Economics

Political parties and analysts have called on the government to abandon a plan to introduce a “voluntary” 2% tax to fund drought relief.Prime Minister Saara...

Bild challenges Guibeb

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | International

The German newspaper Bild has rubbished a claim by the Namibian ambassador to Germany, Andreas Guibeb, that no arrest warrant had been issued against him.The...

Namibia ranks poorly for diversity

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Cultural

For a country that is described by many as one of the most diverse in the world, Namibia has ranked fairly poorly in a new...

Business ponders mass exodus

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Business

A recent survey by the Economic Policy Research Association (EPRA) of close to 600 businesses concerned about the government's policy direction shows that a staggering...

Load More