- “Government is hell bent on banning plastics without any justification”-Sources
- Manufacturers say they proposed a biodegradable plastic instead of a ban but were ignored
Sources from Botswana’s leading plastic manufacturers say the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, misled parliament recently when fielding questions about the plastic ban and levy.
This is after the minister told parliament that government would soon outlaw the use of plastic carrier bags since efforts to find alternatives to protect the environment were unsuccessful. He told the House that his ministry was engaged by the Investment, Trade and Industry ministry which asked them to meet plastic bags manufactures in Botswana to see if they could come up with a solution. Khama said despite giving them up to two months towards the end of last year, none of them gave his ministry any alternative to banning plastic use.
“The National Strategy Office have also been involved so that we try to find a way of collecting that levy because that was the intention but unfortunately despite our efforts, we have not been able to do that with other stakeholders who have the authority to do so. Therefore, our decision then, as I said, has been to proceed with the ban of the 24 microns or lighter plastic bags,” Khama said.
Some plastic manufacturers who spoke to The Botswana Gazette last week however dismissed the minister’s claims, saying they have on numerous occasions communicated their proposals to the relevant authorities but were ignored.
“It is not true what he said. We have been engaging with BOBS as the regulator but it seems the minister has already made up his mind whether we come up with a solution or not. He told parliament that none of us have come forth with alternative proposals to the ban and that is why they have decided to ban plastics and that is not true, he doesn’t want to listen to us on the ground,” indicated on of the concerned manufacturers.
Another manufacturer noted that Botswana is such a small economy that “we cannot go around making statements that we want to ban plastics and not have a substantial justification for it.” The source said they have suggested to BOBS that they should come up with a bio-degradable plastic which will disintegrate when littered and cause no harm to the environment: “We have also suggested that the levy should be implemented. Everybody thinks that government has failed to collect but the fact is they have not put a law in place. So, if you look at the amount of revenue we have lost, this money could have been used for the councils that are failing to collect the rubbish, education, recycling programs and many other things.”
The source explained that the minister’s insistence on proceeding with the ban even when proposals have been put to the Bureau of Standards (BOBS) and the NSO shows that government was “hell bent on banning plastics without any justification,” saying because of this it was “very hard” to engage the ministry on the issue.