NAMIBIA – The Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has announced plans to ban single-use plastics in the country, effective in 2026 or earlier.

In a statement, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said this ban will follow the draft roadmap and will apply to the plastics listed in the recommendations that will be submitted to the cabinet for approval.

“We believe that this ban will help reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans, environment, and wildlife,” Shifeta said.

He further added that the ban will encourage individuals and businesses to adopt more sustainable practices and promote the use of alternative materials.

“We fully understand that this ban may require adjustments for some Namibians and businesses, but we believe it is a necessary step toward a more sustainable future, especially now that we are expected to implement the 17 sustainable development goals,” added Shifeta.

The recommended types of single-use plastics to be banned include thin imported plastic shopping bags of 40 microns, which are recommended to be banned by the end of the 2023/24 financial year because they are currently exempt from the plastic bag environmental levy.

Plastic shopping bags that contain calcium carbonate are also set to be banned by the end of the 2023/24 financial year as they are not conducive to recycling.

Single-use plastic straws and cotton earbuds have been recommended to be banned from import, sale, and commercial supply by January 2024.

The ministry also recommends introducing a comprehensive compulsory deposit and refund system on all single-use plastic drink bottles by January 1, 2025.

Namibia has already introduced a plastic bag levy and banned plastics in national parks, while discussions between the ministry and the Environmental Investment Fund are currently underway to explore the possible utilization of the collected levies for funding initiatives that protect and promote responsible environmental management, pollution control, waste management, and the sustainable use of natural resources for economic development.

According to a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, ‘Turning off the Tap’, plastic pollution could reduce by 80% by 2040 if countries and companies make policies to end production and use of single-use plastic and promote market shifts using existing technologies.

“At the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (Unea-5.2), a resolution was adopted to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment with the ambition to complete the negotiations by the end of 2024,” explained Shifeta.

According to UNEP, approximately seven billion of the 9,2 billion tonnes of plastic produced worldwide from 1950-2017 became plastic waste and ended up in landfills.

“Plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, and directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food production capabilities, and social well-being. Namibia has started the dialogue and is taking steps to address single-use of plastics,” he concluded.

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