Addressing pollution: Focus on plastic bags

• By Confidente Reporter 

IT has been three years since the country introduced a plastic bag levy, but many still question why it was introduced or whether it has effectively reduced plastic waste.

The plastic bag levy was introduced in August 2019 due to cabinet directives on plastic bag levy, for which regulations were developed using the Customs and Excise Act, EIF Act (Environmental Investment Fund Act), and Environmental Management Act.

The prevalence of plastic in the environment remains a considerable threat to human and environmental health – humans, livestock, wildlife, fish, birds, and the broader environment.

Plastic bags are one of the unsightliest forms of waste in Namibia. They are highly visible on the outskirts of all towns and cities, informal settlements, and marine environments.

Plastic bags warrant particular measures to reduce usage due to their prevalence, visibility, durability, and harmful environmental effects.

EIF spokesperson Lot Ndamanomhata says the government gazette the environmental levy on plastic to discourage people from using plastic bags and control plastic pollution.

“The objectives of the environmental levy/taxes are aimed at reducing the quantity of residual material by encouraging recovery and reclamation of discarded electronic appliances, used lubricants, and batteries. All levies that are charged on customers or producers or supplies. The levy generates revenue to be re-invested into initiatives for improved waste management, including waste minimisation, recycling, and anti-littering measures.

“The levy is less drastic than an outright ban. An outright ban would require significant short-term readjustments. It would be potentially disruptive in terms of having sufficient alternatives, such as biodegradable bags or other forms of packaging. Certain types of plastic bags or packaging are necessary for hygiene purposes for certain items such as fresh fish, nuts, meat products, etc. Banning “thinner” plastic bags may lead to other adverse impacts. It should be better to ban bags containing CaCO3 (calcium carbonate). Article 25 of the SACU Agreement allows each member to prohibit or restrict importing goods for economic, social, cultural, or other reasons.

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