Awareness on the benefits of using thicker plastic bags if Malawi is to beat environmental and health hazards that come with the use of thin plastic bags of less than 60 microns.
Government last year placed a ban on the use of thin plastic bags in the country.
But according to an environmental communications practitioner Charles Mkoka, there is still need for a more focused awareness approach to educate Malawians on the environmental and long term effects plastic bags bring to living things including humans, plants and animals.
“Examples have to been drawn from countries that have taken a bold step to ban plastics and the benefits they are accruing. We did not have plastics four decades ago in this country. People used paper bags and we can, through civic education, pass that message to the end users,” he said.
According to Mkoka, it is possible to save the environment from pollution if Malawians can choose to embrace sustainable utilisation of resources.
Mkoka said apart from being an eyesore, thin plastic bags, due to their un-biodegradable nature, among other things release chemicals which end up being consumed by people unknowingly, a development that he said triggers various health complications in humans.
He said the biggest problem with plastics is that they don’t decay.
“The nature of the raw materials used continues to exist in our environment for so long after being disposed. This is becoming a concern because naturally we expect recycling of matter and energy in the things we use as human beings,” he said.
The ban, among other things, prohibits imports of plastic carrier bags, alcohol sachets and plastic papers used in secondary packaging or wrapping with a thickness of less than 60 microns