Enforcing Thin Plastic Ban

207 bales of thin plastic carrier bags were found inside OG Plastic Limited factory 207 bales of thin plastic carrier bags were found inside OG Plastic Limited factory - pic by Happy Njalam'mano

Last year, Malawi implemented a landmark ban against production and use of thin plastics of less than 60 microns in her bid to deal with climate change.

The ban was not welcomed by manufacturers who appealed the ban in court but the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in favor of government.

Dissatisfaction by the manufacturers has been evidenced in the local markets where thin plastic carrier bags have been found in large volumes.

Malawi government has now intensified its efforts to enforce the ban by conducting routine inspections at the manufacturing companies to ensure compliance.

This week, the Department of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Wildlife has closed down two major companies for producing the illegal plastics in Capital Lilongwe and commercial city of Blantyre.

After sealing OG Plastics Limited on Thursday in Blantyre, Environmental Officer, Patrick Nyirenda, told Zodiak Online that they found during a routine inspection 207 bales of thin carrier bags in the factory.

“Our lawyers will advise us on how to proceed with the matter apart from the closure. This offense attracts various penalties depending on gravity of the offense.

“Apart from the closure, the offense also attracts fines and the perpetrators can be taken to court for trial,” he said.

“It is also our worry that illegal plastics have been finding their way to the markets. We are trying to find people perpetrating that. We have discovered that some companies are complying but there are some that are operating at night. At times we do operations at night but sometimes we find people that produce these things in areas that we don’t know. This is also a big challenge for us to identify the key perpetrators,” he added.

The company’s head supervisor, Gift Supada, said that “we accept that because the plastics have been found in our factory.

“We cannot say no but that is a production from an old stock in January last year. We are keeping them here for now. Every month, we take ten to fifteen bags to recycle machine,” he said.

Civil Society Network for Climate Change National Coordinator, Julius Ng’oma, said the effort by government is a way to go if the country is to win the fight against climate change.

“We have realized that despite the ban, there are some areas or challenges where we feel need to be addressed. Some of the manufacturers are not complying, which is total threat to our environmental wellbeing.

“We would like to encourage government to do even more inspections without necessarily looking at who is doing what. There is need to strengthen their own capacity to ensure that they reaching wherever they can,” he said.

Ng’oma added by urging government fir proper penalties that will help to arrest the situation in the country.

“We know there are some ambitious penalties that are being included in some of the regulations but still as we are going ahead, there is always going to be dissatisfaction and issues to do with corruption where culprits to environmental damage related issues will find their way to dodge penalties,” said Ng’oma.

One of social media users, @Wongiedal265, tweeted his response on the closure of the company that “plastics less than 60 microns are non- bio degradable. This leads to soil poisoning. Good development.”

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