EMA push for measures to control use of single carrier plastics, diapers

By Lewis Kuchineyi
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has revealed that they are currently working on measures that seeks to control the serious damage being caused by plastics and diapers.
The agency has noted the damaging effect of single use plastics and diapers because they have a much longer resident presence on the environment.
Speaking during an Environmental Reporting Workshop with the media from Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and Midlands provinces held in Bulawayo recently, Bulawayo Provincial Manager, Sithembisiwe Ndlovu said there is a growing need to safeguard the environment for the benefit of both current and future generations.
“We are now talking about single use carrier bags and have seen how much they are polluting the environment. There are efforts to phase them out. We say phasing out because sometimes we don’t want to use the word ban because the word banning actually sounds a little bit radical. That’s why we want to look at the word phasing out such that we try to talk to each other where the national economic circumstances are talking to the issues of environmental pollution,” she said.
Ndhlovu also said that because of the presence of persistent organic pollutants in these plastics, the agency was looking for ways of containing plastics without polluting the environment.
 On the issues of diapers, the Provincial Manager said that baseline surveys have revealed that 14% of all the solid waste generated in the country is classified as sanitary wear and diapers are in the category of sanitary wear.
She said the agency is currently working on having a chain of custody for diapers and also to set up control measures on the importation of diapers at the country’s ports of entries.
“Diapers are a problem issue in the environment, and we are quite ceased with it. Most of the diapers come in as imports and that is whereas the agency we need to quickly inform decision making on how really, we can control even the importation of diapers especially at the ports of entries.
“Where we have them being manufactured locally, I think again, we need to come up with a regulatory framework,” she added.
Ndlovu also said that the vision of the environmental agency is fulfilling EMA’s vision of an empowered society through ensuring a clean, safe and healthy environment and a sustainable growing economy by 2030.
The provincial manager also revealed that because there is no single entity or organization that is responsible for the environment, it was therefore everyone’s responsibility to safeguard our environment. 
“Environmental management in this country is based on the concept of teamwork which is also premised on having shared and clearly defined roles of various stakeholders. “That is why we need every stakeholder to come on board from grass root level right up to national level,” said Ndlovu. 
Also speaking on the issues of diapers at the workshop, Decent Ndlovu, the Provincial Environmental Manager for Matebeleland South Province said that the use of diapers could not be initially included in the legislation because diapers were still a new thing then.
“We appreciate that diapers could have been included in the legislation, but at the moment we treat it as part of waste that has to be managed. These changes or reviews which happen depend on the issues that are coming up like diapers which were not there when this bill was enacted,” he added.
He however said that there was need to properly inform all stakeholders so that if legislation was to come up, everyone would be aware. 
“But that is a process, and we appreciate that people are putting diapers as one of the major challenges that are emerging which needs to be regulated and we take note of that as an agency,” Ndhlovu added.
He also highlighted that there are environmental rights enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe through the Environmental Management Act, the Forestry Act and the Parks and Wildlife Management Act together with a number of statutory instruments.
“Every person shall have the right to a clean environment that is not harmful to health, access to environmental information and also to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations and to participate in the implementation of the protection of reasonable legislative, policy and other resources,” he said.

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