Sat, 24 Feb 2018 10:03:40 +0000
By MAILESI BANDA
THE Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), has called for a gradual ban in the use of plastic packaging in the country.
ZEMA director-general, John Msimuko said a gradual ban could be achieved through enacting the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations as one way of managing packaging materials such as plastics which eventually ended up as toxic waste.
Mr. Msimuko said that plastics did not only pose an environmental risk but also posed a health risk since most plastics on the market were non-biodegradable.
He said that while plastics accounted for up to 88 percent of packaging material in manufacturing industries in Zambia, its widespread use has led to environmental problems.
This is according to a press statement to the Daily Nation by ZEMA, manager public relations Ireen Chipili.
He explained that waste containing plastics is in many instances openly burnt which leads to generation of toxic gases and that open air burning of plastic waste is a source of air emissions which is a global environmental health issue.
He said the environmental regulator has concluded the stakeholder consultative process for the enactment of Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) and awaits finalisation of the regulations through the relevant Government processes.
“Section 58 of the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011 (EMA) provides for EPR and demands that every producer be responsible for their waste.
“The EPR broadens the responsibility of the producer to be responsible for their product from generation to disposal. Therefore, the ultimate goal of EPR is environmentally responsible product development and recovery,” he said.
He said the adoption of the EPR will ensure the enforcement of Standard ZS 719 on Plastic Carrier and Flat Bags developed by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) which among things, prescribes the thickness of carrier bags and flat bags.
He said the recommended thickness of plastic carrier bags is 50 microns and above, a move which will make it mandatory for all producers of plastic carrier bags to make reusable and recyclable plastics.