WINDHOEK - Following the introduction of an environmental levy on plastic bags, some shops have started charging for a minimal fee in a range of 50 cents already, although no levy has yet been officially gazetted.
Some customers have expressed concern over these charges.
Ministry of Environment and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, in an interview with New Era, said the current charges by shops are not part of the environmental levy on plastics, which is yet to be formalized.
The levy on plastic bags is still being finalised by the Ministry of Finance and is expected to be gazzetted in July.
“This is the discretion of the shops either to charge or not to charge for plastics and it is also the discretion of the customer whether to buy or not. Shops are charging for plastic for various reasons, this can be to recuperate the cost the shop spent on plastic bags or some can be to help reduce plastics bags for environmental protection,” Muyunda explained.
Equally, he said the ministry commends any efforts aimed at reducing plastic bags on the streets.
According to him, once the law in finalised, an environmental levy will be charged on plastics.
He appealed to member of the public to be proactive and help government to reduce the amount of plastics that end up in the society by using reusable shopping bags.
Asked if the current levy on plastic bags is a sufficient deterrent to stop people from using plastic bags, Muyunda said the envisaged levy in their view will reduce the use of plastics in Namibia, but also provide resources for government to deal with the environmental impacts of plastics.
Hence, he noted the proposed levy will generate funds that will be directed to Environmental Investment Fund to be invested in projects that aimed at environmental protection.
Asked on what is an alternative to customers have to plastic bags, he said reusable shopping bags are very durable and can be reused many times over the course of their useful life.
Equally, he indicated the manufacturing of reusable bags is also another opportunity to create sustainable products and the jobs that go with them.
Seeing many Africa countries have a total ban on plastic bags use, New Era asked whether the ministry of environment support a total ban on plastic bags.
Muyunda said Namibia is considering to ban plastics considering the effects they have on the environment.
This, he says will be done gradually in consultation with the industry and the citizens of the country.
He stated the envisaged plastic levy should be viewed as entry point to ban plastics.
He could however not give a timeframe as to when the nation can expect a proposal in that regard-seeing that the ban is currently only applicable in national parks.
“We cannot give a time frame on this, but the nation will be informed accordingly should this come into play,” Muyunda said.
He outlined some of the common effects of plastics bags, these include polluting the land and water.
In addition, he said because they are so lightweight, plastic bags can travel long distances by wind and water.
Furthermore, he said they litter the landscapes, get caught in fences and trees, and float around in waterways.
They are unsightly and unattractive particularly in the eyes of the tourists and investors, said the environmental spokesperson.
“Plastic bags are harmful to wildlife and marine life. Plastic bags and their associated plastic pieces are often mistaken for food by animals, birds, and marine life. The consumed plastic can lead to health issues such as infections and even death by suffocation for our wildlife. Plastic bags are durable, they don’t decompose easily,” he maintained.
2019-06-18 09:06:37 3 months ago