By LUKE KAMA
THE campaign against the use of plastic shopping bags is back – this time the Government will impose a levy on their manufacture and import to discourage their use.
It follows its failure to implement two policies on the same issue:
- The Environment Policy 2009 – on the ban on non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags; and,
- The Environment Regulation 2011 – on the control of biodegradable plastic shopping bags. It was implemented by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) since 2014.
Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change John Pundari said the campaign had not been effective and plastic bag littering continued to worsen every day.
Pundari said Cepa was now working on regulations to effect the environment levy soon.
“Although Cepa had tried its best to implement the ban on non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags, and imposed control on the import, manufacturing and use of biodegradable, compliance by the industries and the consumers at large have not been encouraging,” he said.
“This has resulted in plastics continuing to threaten and degrade our unique and precious marine and terrestrial environment. And at the same time, it poses a significant threat to our people’s health and wellbeing.”
He said as a responsible government, serious measures must be taken and required a shift in the approach to managing plastic waste.
Pundari said around K20 million was spent every year to manage and control the use of plastic shopping bags.
He said that cost would now be shared by the manufacturers and importers of plastics shopping bags.
“I know this decision by the Government will not go down well with the companies and industries manufacturing, importing and using them, but we have to be smart and look at alternatives like eco bags and encourage our people to venture into making bilums,” he said.
Pundari said the levy would be used to effectively manage plastic waste around the country by way of community clean-up campaigns and awareness, implementing testing facilities for biodegradable plastics shopping bags, facilitating investment in plastic recycling plant and compliance and enforcement activities.
He encourage companies and industries to contact Cepa on their issues regarding the decision to impose environment levy.