Court ends Malawi’s thin plastics battle

Nancy Tembo

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe has, in a ruling, supported the ban imposed on thin plastics in the country.

In the latest case, Golden Plastics Limited wanted to secure a judicial review on thin plastics regulations.

However, its application has been dismissed by the court, meaning that the government’s position on thin plastics has legal backing.


Meanwhile, Forestry and Natural Resources Minister Nancy Tembo has hailed the determination, saying it restores the ban on plastics of less than 60 micrometres.

“Justice has prevailed. This implies that the Department of Environmental Affairs, which is under my ministry, will now go full throttle to enforce the ban. It is worth noting that this is a partial ban, meaning that some plastics are exempted,” Tembo said.

Tembo cited plastics used for food packaging which, she said, would still be available on the market until the next phase when the government is expected to impose a total ban on thin plastics.


She said time had come to explore opportunities that would come along with alternatives to thin plastics.

Meanwhile, Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy Executive Director Herbert Mwalukomo has said the court’s ruling means that production, selling and use of thin single use plastics of less than 60 micrometres is illegal in Malawi

“Ultimately, we will not need all forms of plastics altogether. Industry must respond without waiting for law enforcers. Alternative packaging materials must become the norm for us all,” Mwalukomo said.

Save the Future Foundation-Malawi Director Maloto Chinkombero concurred with Mwalukomo, saying the government must ensure that companies that are still manufacturing and distributing thin plastics must be punished.

The court also ordered the company to pay costs for the case.

Thin plastics were banned in 2019 by the courts but, after Golden Plastics went to the High Court (Commercial Division) to seek a stay order on the ruling, it became difficult for the government to enforce the same.

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