Parliament has approved a motion to reconsider its decision to ban plastic bags and introduce the plastic levy policy. Presenting the motion on Friday, Member of Parliament for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa said the standard of plastic carrier bags should be maintained by businesses and government should educate consumers on the danger of plastics on the environment.
“Government should also encourage research and innovation on the adoption of environmental friendly carrier bags not made from plastics and be adopted over time without compromising the relevant industries,” said Nkaigwa. Nkaigwa said if the policy to collect levy is introduced jobs can be created and other development projects could be done. “The environment itself presents viable opportunities for job creation and economic development but the ministry is not considering it,” he said.
Last year the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism reversed the decision to ban the use of plastic bags stating that it is still in discussions with the industry players. According to Kgalagadi Plastics Industries (KPI) Managing Director, Raj Patel government could have raised about P480 million if the levy could have been implemented.
“Considering our production in a month, we produce 10 million bags and the levy would be charged at 40 thebe per plastic, so government could be collecting P4 million in a month. This means P48 million could be collected every year and now government could have made P480 million in 10 years,” said Patel.
For his part, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila said they are currently in discussions with the manufacturers and other stakeholders to come up with the best solution to their concerns. Speaking to Botswana Guardian, Patel said that they are currently looking for ways to come up with biodegradable material and they are suggesting that government should not ban the use of plastic bags.
“We have engaged consultants from UK and they are coming next week. Government should not ban the use of plastic bags because the problem is not the plastic bags but the people. Government could be educating the consumers about the use of plastic bags,” said Patel.
He said currently the plastic manufacturing industry employs more than 800 people so jobs are going to be lost if government can ban the use of plastics. “We need to find a better solution for our country. If we look at other countries like UK, USA they still use plastic bags but they have policies and have raised awareness on the effects of plastics on the environment,” he said.
Last year June the ministry issued a statement indicating that effective 1st November the use of shopping plastic carrier bags would be prohibited and offenders would face charges of seven months imprisonment or fined an amount of P5000. 00.
However the ministry pointed out that there has never been a detailed research done locally on the dangers of plastic bags but stated that the country must strike a balance between economic growth and environmental conservation. Currently there are more than 40 countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, Kenya and Italy.