Malawi NGO faults government on plastic ban silence

One of Malawi’s environmental non-governmental organizations, Conserve Our World Organization (COWO), has expressed concern over government’s continued silence on the ban it effected a few months ago on importation, production and use of thin plastics of less than 60 micron meters.

Government, through the Environmental Affairs Department issued the ban early this year citing their (thin plastics) failure to decompose easily, their interference with safe and delivery of water supplies and their reduction of the aesthetic land amongst several other negative effects.

Initially the ban was to become effective from 30th April 2013 but the date was later shifted to 30th June 2013.
However, the ban is yet to come to pass, a development that has forced COWO to wonder whether government has revoked the ban.

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According to government, the ban would help in reducing and controlling negative impacts associated with indiscriminate use and disposal of thin plastic bags as well as encouraging the use and reuse of environmentally friendly bags.

In a statement emailed to Nyasa Times , COWO argues by remaining silent on the matter, government is subjecting the public to speculate.

“The public may wonder as to why there is inertia on the issue by government.  Is it that government is buying more time for consultation or has revoked the ban altogether?” the statement, signed by COWO’s Senior Coordinating Members Obert Mkandawire and Patson Gondwe, reads in part.

The organization then urges government to come into the open by telling the public the current status of the ban and raise awareness on the implementation modalities.

While commending government for its attempt to deal with the environmental impact through the imposition of the ban, COWO faults the Joyce Banda administration for lacking a multi-facet approach on the matter by among others ignoring sensitization and wide consultations on the matter before imposing the ban.

“COWO is of the view that government needed to conduct massive sensitization on the contents of the ban before imposing it,” says the organization.

The package for sensitization, according to COWO, would include guidelines for safe management and disposal of plastic products; dangers of indiscriminate disposal of plastics and importance of reducing, reusing and recycling plastics.

COWO is also of the view that apart from the use of a mandatory ban, a multi-faceted approach is required in dealing with the problem of one way carrier bags in Malawi as the latter approach is more effective than the former.

“Such an approach would combine voluntary agreements between government and the industry on the reduction of production of one way carrier bags, awareness raising campaigns and promotion of reusable bags” reads the statement issued on 12th September 2013.

Conserve Our World Organization is a local non-governmental, membership based organization with a mandate to develop and promote an environmentally conscious and friendly Malawian society that helps in conserving the environment, realizing that continued human existence and the potential to create a better place to live in, is fundamentally dependent upon the very nature that humanity has neglected through unconscionable activities.

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