Continued usage of thin plastic worries CEPA

Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) says Malawi is failing to win the battle against plastic pollution despite the availability of laws.

CEPA Executive Director and board member of Coordination Union for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (CURE), Herbert Mwalukomo, said this on Friday in Blantyre during the 1 Plastics Only Clean up Day organized by the Civil Society Organisation Network.

Mwalukomo attributed the situation to the lack of enforcement of laws that guard the country against the use of thin plastics.

“Despite the fact that government has laws in place, including regulations targeting thin plastics, the laws are not being enforced; the courts have not yet come up with a decision.

“We are still in a situation where we cannot enforce the ban on thin plastics,” said Mwalukomo.

He, therefore, said there is a need for coordinative efforts with stakeholders that manufacture plastics apart from the law enforcers.

“You cannot be taking water from a bathtub using a teaspoon while the tap is still open; what we need to do is close the tap in the first place if we are going to address the problem once and for all.

“This tap in this case of plastic pollution is where the plastics are being manufactured. That is why we are here at GM Plastic Manufacturing Company to send a message that we need to work together in reducing the number of plastics found in the environment,” he said.

Mwalukomo further called on the general public to play their role by refusing the plastics when going out to buy things or reuse them so that the amount of plastics in the environment is reduced.

He said reduced demand for plastics will slow down the production of the same.

In an interview, GM Plastics Manufacturing Sales and Marketing Manager, Alfred Jasi, said they have received a request to recycle plastics and said would do as requested.

 "GM tries to recycle plastics three to four times. Malawians can always sell the plastics they find on the floor to the people who buy them who will bring them to us to recycle them,” said Jasi.

In a related development, the Programmes Manager for the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy, Gloria Kamoto, has pleaded with the government to take an active role in facilitating laws that would regulate waste management as one way of creating a waste-free environment in the country.

Kamoto was speaking on Friday on the sidelines of a review meeting for a 15-month Urban Governance ‘My city, My space,’ Project being implemented by CEPA with support from Tilitonse Foundation managed grants.

She observed that the current pieces of legislation do not recognize private sector waste management, noting that most of the licenses in the waste management cycle are prohibitive of the private industry to engage in the same.

“It is high time government rose up to the occasion and put some legislation which can effectively govern waste management with some deliberate guidelines on the role of private players in the industry,” Kamoto said.

“We will continue to lobby for a reform in waste management as currently, there are a lot of gaps within local council committees on environment and sanitation where they are ill-equipped for the task even though it is provided by the law,” she said.

Kamoto said the intervention with support from Tilitonse Foundation helped in providing support to 1 efforts of clean-up days where different partners were involved, unlike engaging only those in the environmental sector. 

Kamoto: current pieces of legislation do not recognize private sector waste management

She said one of the achievements realized from the ‘My city, my space,’ was that it created awareness among residents of the city on their role in the waste management chain.

According to Kamoto, communities had a chance of learning how to separate waste through the provision of green and red bins.

She said CEPA would take lessons learned from the ‘My city, my space,’ Project to schools in the city to scale up the interventions. Kamoto said it was necessary to instill a sense of responsibility in learners to grow with the attitude of sustainable waste management.

Blantyre City Council Director of Health and Social Services, Dr. Emmanuel Kanjunjunju, thanked Tilitonse Foundation for supporting the intervention, saying the partnership between BCC and CEPA provided useful insights on how effective waste management could be done.

“CEPA brought all the partners in waste management in the city together; the approach proved to be effective because of the concerted efforts.

“In our case, we need a lot of people to go and collect waste from the bins/skips, which was eased with the project,” Kanjunjunju said.

He said the initiative by CEPA also increased awareness among residents through the creation of a communication line where residents have an opportunity to report cases of poor waste disposal to the council for possible redress.

“We have a dedicated toll-free line which is a result of CEPA’s intervention; we also have a Whatsapp line for the same purpose. All this is happening in the context of 1 clean-up day for communities to keep their surroundings clean,” Kanjunjunju said.

He also said the project empowered Blantyre City Council market cleaners and workers with the knowledge of solid waste management through the process of separation, recycling, and recovery.

CEPA implemented ‘My City, My Space’ Project in Blantyre City with funding from European Union (EU) and Royal Norwegian Embassy through the Tilitonse Foundation managed grants to the tune of 150, 250 Euros (an equivalent of K127.8 million).