Government yet to effect thin plastics ban

Three weeks after the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal upheld government’s ban on thin plastics, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines is yet to start enforcing the ban.

Ministry spokesperson Sangwani Phiri said in an interview yesterday government is still strategising to start enforcing the ban.

This is despite the ministry stating a week after the court ruling on the thin plastics ban, that it would start confiscating thin plastics with immediate effect and would not give plastic manufacturers grace period to finish selling stocks piled in their warehouses. 

A thin plastics vendor seen in Blantyre yesterday

But Phiri yesterday said the ministry has no resources to facilitate enforcement.

He said: “We will start thin plastics ban reinforcement after scrutinising what we have at hand.  But we cannot be specific because we are looking at issues of money. We want now to make sure that we have enough resources on the ground to start reinforcement.”

Spot-checks in cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe yesterday showed some thin plastics manufacturers are still producing and selling the product.

The Lilongwe Wild Life Trust (LWT), one of the organisations that were pushing for the thin plastics ban, has since asked government to take the ban seriously and start the reinforcement.

LWT campaign coordinator Samantha Nampuntha in an interview asked government and people in the country to take the ban seriously.

She said: “The implications are big and the ban should be taken seriously. We trust government will enforce the ban because we have been working closely with them and they are keen to effect this ban.”

In 2015 government banned the production, distribution and importation of thin plastics of less than 60 microns because they are a threat to the environment due their delayed rate of decomposition.

But in January 2016, Aero Plastics Industries Ltd, Rainbow Plastics and 12 other thin plastics manufacturing companies obtained an injunction against the implementation of the ban, arguing that it infringed on their business rights. In 2018, an LWT study established that thin plastics make up 8.5 percent of waste generated in the country, much higher that than in other sub-Saran countries

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