Botswana in hasty plastic ban retreat

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By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone- Barely two weeks after announcing that a retail plastic bag ban would be effected on November 1, Botswana has suspended the decision indefinitely.

Minister responsible for environment, Tshekedi Khama, revealed that the decision to suspend the ban was necessitated by concerns from manufacturers who had complained that they were not consulted when the decision was made.

The decision to suspend the ban indefinitely has been welcomed by an organisation that represents the interests of the private sector, Business Botswana.

Business Botswana President Gobusamang Keebine said there was no proper explanation from the government on the alternative replacement to plastic carrier bags. He also bemoaned the fact that those who were to be affected by the decision were not adequately consulted.

In a statement, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Permanent Secretary Thato Raphaka informed the “public, business sector and other stakeholders that the Waste Management (Plastic Carrier Bag and Plastic Flat Bag Prohibition) Regulations, 2018 has been postponed until further notice.”

According to Raphaka, “This means that the Plastic Bag ban will not effect on the 1st November 2018. The postponement is being done to allow further engagement on the implementation of the prohibition.”

He said his ministry would communicate any further developments regarding the plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags prohibition as they occur.

“The public, the business sector and stakeholders are encouraged to continue with the good work that they had started to reduce the negative impact of plastic bags on the environment, waterways and on livestock in Botswana,” said Raphaka.

He explained that Botswana had decided to impose a ban on plastic carrier bags because they have negative impacts on the environment

“Plastics have adverse impacts on human and animal health, for example, due to their impervious (waterproof) characteristics, they serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other vermin. Animals, for instance, die from choking when they eat plastic bags,” said Raphaka. 

He added that plastics are harmful to livestock when ingested as they disrupt the digestive process causing bloating and ultimately death of the animal, creating losses for farmers.

“Plastics reduce the aesthetic value of the environment as they hang on trees and generally are widespread in the environment. Plastic is not biodegradable hence once deposited in the soil and landfills, it persists in the environment for a long period of time. In light of the above hazards presented by the plastic carrier bags the public is advised to be mindful and dispose of plastic bags in a manner beneficial to the environment and livestock,’ he said.

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