Save our environment; stop using plastic

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has urged South Africans to eradicate plastic pollution by avoiding single-use plastic products and recycling existing plastic products wherever possible.

“Plastic pollution is particularly insidious because once plastics enter into the environment, they do not biodegrade, but simply break down into smaller pieces over time.

“This has a detrimental effect on our environment, more so once this pollution enters our oceans and endangers marine life and fragile marine ecosystems,” Molewa said.

As the international community marked World Environment Day (WED) on Tuesday, the Minister reiterated that South Africa is committed to minimizing plastic pollution and her department is looking at introducing a raft of measures to curb plastic pollution.

One such measure is phasing out the use of micro-beads in the production of cosmetics. The department is in consultation with the cosmetics industry in this regard.

These will be aligned with recommendations of a plastic material flow study undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

“In line with resolutions taken at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA), the Study showed that only 21% of plastic waste is recycled. The study recommends among other issues, that plastics must be collected and removed at source,” the department said.

The Departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and Trade and Industry (dti) as well as the dti agencies, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), as well as National Treasury will be reviewing the implementation and impact of the country’s plastic bag policies.

“The South African government remains committed to implementing the recommendations of the plastic material flow study,” the department said.

The World Environment Day is this year celebrated under theme: “Beating Plastic Pollution”, urges governments, industries, communities and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic products.

To mark World Environment Day the Minister has announced the upcoming launch of the #THUMAMINA/green/good/deeds; for a clean and beautiful South Africa campaign, in response to the Presidential Thuma Mina initiative.

This campaign aims to change attitudes and behaviour towards waste and environment in general and mobilize every citizen to take responsibility for keeping their communities clean. –