By Mathews Malata, Correspondent:
An environmental rights group Movement for Environmental Action in Malawi (MEA) has expressed concern over government’s delay in enforcing the ban of production and use of thin plastics nearly a year after the Supreme Court overturned a decision of the High Court to stop the ban.
Plastic manufacturers had challenged the ban in the High Court before the Supreme Court overturned the verdict mid last year.
MEA executive member, Dorothy Tembo Nhlema, who is also Head of Programmes at Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, complained that Malawi is not doing enough to ensure the banned plastics—those below 60 microns in thickness—are out of the market.
Nhlema was speaking in Lilongwe when the group engaged in a plastic-trash cleaning exercise along Lingadzi River within Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.
“If the government was serious about the ban, all the thin plastics we see today should have disappeared. To the contrary, we see the plastics daily as if there is no ban at all,” she said.
Nhlema added that MEA would be writing the responsible ministry to seek answers on why the ban is not being implemented.
She also said the cleaning exercise is not sustainable as waste management remains a big issue such that chances are high rains would still bring trash on the river’s banks.
“In fact, we need to advocate for the proper way of managing waste because if we don’t, we will find ourselves here doing the same thing again. Every Malawian must take it upon themselves to manage the waste they generate,” Nhlema said.
Another member of the group, Twapa Ghambi, also expressed concern over the manner in which the country is managing solid waste and called on Malawians to subscribe to the aspirations of the movement which advocates for climate justice and a cleaner earth, among others.
Director of Environmental Affairs, Taonga Mbale Luka, said the government remains committed to banning all thin plastics in the country and cited cases where some manufacturing companies have been closed and the banned plastics confiscated.
Luka, however, admitted that the Covid-19 restrictions have affected enforcement activities considering that they need to comply with the set restrictions to protect their officers and help contain the spread of the virus.
At least 75,000 tonnes of plastic are produced each year in Malawi of which 80 percent are single-use plastics.