The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism announced on Wednesday that the Waste Management (Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Prohibition) Regulations, 2018 would come into operation on the 1st November 2018.
This means that from the 1st of November 2018 the use of plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags will no longer be allowed in Botswana. The ministry said in a press release that the time between now up to the 1st of November is aimed at giving the public and relevant industries the opportunity to put in place environmentally friendly packaging systems or alternatives to the plastic bag.
Once in place, the regulations stipulate that anyone who manufactures, trades, imports, possesses or for commercial purposes distributes a plastic carrier bag or plastic flat bag for use in Botswana would be committing an offence. The press release highlighted that the ban will, however, not apply to the following for health and hygiene purposes:
- Plastic bags used for packaging bread
- Plastic bin liners used for lining refuse bins or refuse receptacles as well as those designed to carry waste
- Thin or flimsy plastic bags used to separate products at the final point of sale
- Plastic packaging designed for purposes of containing the product during transportation or handling to the point of distribution or point of use
The ministry further warned that those who contravene the regulations on the ban would be liable to the following:
- First offenders will have the plastic carrier bag or the flat bag confiscated
- Second or subsequent offenders will be liable to a fine not exceeding P5, 000.00 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 30 days or both.
The press release went on to say several attempts have previously been made to manage or control the proliferation of plastic carrier bags in the environment through various strategies such as public education and awareness on its proper use, recycling and minimisation of its use. Furthermore, compulsory standards were developed to regulate the thickness of the carrier bag. The ministry recognised that despite all these initiatives, the plastic bag continues to be an environmental nuisance with a negative impact on the environs and domestic animals, thus the ultimate decision by cabinet to ban its use in Botswana. The move to implement the ban on plastic carrier/flat bag follows long consultations (over a number of years) with stakeholders, both public and private.
Negative impacts of plastic on the environment
- Plastic is not biodegradable
- Plastic is an eyesore
- Plastic can pose a threat to human and animal health as it can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other vermin. Known for chewing plastic carrier bags, animals can choke on them and die. Additionally, plastic is harmful to livestock when digested as it disrupts the digestive process, causing bloating and ultimately death.
In making the decision to ban plastic, Botswana joins a number of countries around the world which have banned plastic. Regionally, countries such as Rwanda and Kenya have already implemented the ban on plastic. The Ministry has started the process of engaging with various stakeholders and communities to increase awareness of the plastic ban and encouraging the use of alternatives. As part of its mandate, the Ministry also asserted that it would continue exploring effective waste management measures in line with universally acceptable best practices. This, it said, is with the aim of promoting a clean and safe environment.
For more information on the ban – the Government Gazette of 1st June 2018, Statutory Instrument no. 74 of 2018, Waste Management (Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Prohibition) Regulations of 2018.)
Reference: Botswana Government Facebook page