Conservation Caucus, UNDP welcome Malawi ban on plastic bags as ‘fantastic victory’

The Malawian Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust claim that banning thin plastics  will help tackle rising levels of plastic pollution and deliver long-term savings to the economy.

Malawi court court outlaws single-use plastic

The government imposed the ban on thin plastic bags in 2015, but the move was overturned by the high court after a number of plastic manufacturers who operate in Malawi obtained an injunction, citing an “infringement of business rights”.

Delivering the verdict on Thursday, a panel of seven judges dismissed the appeal.

Companies who violate the ban face fines and the closure of their factories.

Werani Chilenga, MPCC Co-Chair, said, “For decades, spiralling amounts of plastic waste have been choking our lands and waterways, infecting our food chains and crippling our economy. A ban on thin plastics will help put the brakes on this destruction and protect our precious natural resources for generations to come.”

Andrew Spezowka, Portfolio Manager at UNDP for Resilience and Sustainable Growth, said: “This is a real chance for Malawi to join a growing global movement to tackle what is one of the world’s biggest environmental scourges. I urge all those individuals and organisations who remain committed to beating plastic pollution to continue to make their voices heard.”

Yolanda Ng’oma, campaign spokesperson for Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, said, “Public, political and scientific opinion have all been shown to support a crackdown on thin plastics. A ban will help to create a cleaner, safer and more prosperous Malawi for all.”

The MPCC, UNDP and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust published an independent assessment showing that an estimated 75,000 tonnes of plastic is currently

produced in Malawi each year, of which 80% is single-use plastic that cannot be recycled.

The report highlights the large-scale environmental, social and economic damage wrought by plastic pollution both globally and in Malawi.

Plastic waste can persist in the environment for centuries and Malawi’s  waste management solutions are not equipped to handle current, let alone projected, waste production.

Public opinion favours a crackdown on thin plastics. In April 2019, a survey of over 1,500 people found that 95% of people believed plastic pollution to be a serious issue in Malawi and94% of people agreed with the ban.

Across the world, a growing number of nations have recognised the urgency and gravity of plastic pollution.

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