MOZAMBIQUE – The Mozambican authorities have adopted a law to ban the use of plastic bags by 2024 as a measure to reduce plastic pollution that affects marine biodiversity and public health in the country of nearly 32 million people.

The parliament has finally approved the bill to ban plastic bags. Stalled by the covid-19 pandemic, the law will come into force by 2024.

This environmentally friendly measure will be implemented with the help of the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international partners as part of the National Sustainable Development Programme and the government’s five-year plan for 2020-2024.

“The plastic bag problem cannot be seen as an urban sanitation management issue faced only by Municipal Councils and local governments,” said Ivete Maibaze, Mozambique’s Minister for Land and Environment.

“It impacts the lives of every citizen, directly and indirectly by contributing to a large extent of inadequate sanitation, creating conditions for the emergence of diseases and threatening biodiversity.”

The minister said the proposal for a regulation on the banning of plastic is already being heard and the country will align itself with the international and national commitments that the government has made through her ministry.

According to the 2020 UNEP/IUCN National Guidance for Plastic Pollution Hotspotting and Shaping Action National Report for Mozambique, of the 179,000 tonnes of domestically generated waste, less than one percent of the plastic is recycled. Around 17,000 tonnes of plastic waste leak into the marine environment.

This is equivalent to an individual leakage of 0.6 kg/capita/year and is due to significant mismanagement of solid waste. Macro-leakage contributes to 95% of the country’s overall leakage (UNEP and IUCN, 2020).

Maibaze said that the polymers used in the production of disposable plastics are not biodegradable and on average only begin to decompose after 500 years.

In addition, she warned that there was a health risk posed by the contamination of hot food and drinks packaged in plastics that may contain chemicals such as Benzene and Stellin.

Mozambique joins Tanzania, Kenya, Mali, Cameroon, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda and Botswana who have imposed a ban on plastic use in Africa.

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