FRANCISTOWN: Cabinet has taken a decision to ban the use of plastic carrier and flat bags effective from November 1, 2018. The deputy director in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Frank Molebatsi revealed this during a consultative workshop about the ban on Thursday.
Molebatsi stated that the decision to ban plastics was made following several attempts in the past to manage or control the proliferation of plastic carrier bags in the environment. He said that in the past public education and awareness about the proper use of plastic bags to curb littering, promotion of its reduction, reuse, and recycling initiatives and development of compulsory standard (BOBS 186: 2006) regulated plastics based on their thickness. However, all these measures never yielded positive and sustainable results, said Molebatsi.
Molebatsi also decried the danger of plastic bags in people’s daily lives. He said plastic bags are non-biodegradable hence once deposited in the soil they stay in the environment for long periods.
Molebatsi explained that farmers reported cases in which animals had died from choking after eating plastic bags. He added that plastic bags also disrupt the digestive process causing bloating and ultimately the death of the animals.
“Due to their impervious and persistence nature, plastic bags hold water and thus creating a conducive environment for mosquitoes. The bags also reduce the aesthetic value of the environment as they hang on trees and other structures,” said a concerned Molebatsi.
Chief waste management officer, Tshenolo
Meanwhile, Molebatsi also told the gathering that the law that will regulate the use of plastic will be published in the Government Gazette of June 1.
He stated that the offences and penalties meted out to people who contravene these regulations include confiscation of the plastic carrier bag for first offenders.
Additionally, Molebatsi stated that repeat offenders are liable to a fine not exceeding P5,000 or a prison term not exceeding 30 days or to both. Molebatsi says the ministry will use some platforms to raise awareness the first being the World Environment Day on June 5 whose theme is, ‘Beat plastic pollution’, and also hold talk shows across the country. BURS officers pleaded with officials from the environment ministry to intensify their public education about the ban to avoid unnecessary conflicts between people who deal with plastic bags especially at the border.