WINDHOEK - Cabinet has endorsed the proposals as recommended by the Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Development on the introduction of environmental levy on plastic carrier bags, with 100 percent of the revenue from this levy accruing to the Environmental Investment Fund for improved waste management practices.
Environmental Commissioner of Namibia, Teofilius Nghitila last year said government introduced a levy on plastic bags in an effort to curb pollution in the country, following closely in the steps of other African countries clamping down on waste related to plastic that has become a concern of colossal proportions.
There have been discussions with the Ministry of Finance to formulate taxes on plastic bags in Namibia.
This means that soon Namibians will pay a small additional amount when they make use of plastic carrier bags while shopping.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Engel Nawatiseb who announced Cabinet resolutions yesterday said Cabinet endorsed as recommended by the trade and economic development committee to ban the import and domestic production of plastic bags containing carbonic acid, calcium salt and also ban the use of plastic bags in protected areas.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) is in the process to implement the ban, which implies no single-use plastic bags will be allowed in the country's national parks.
Nawatiseb said Cabinet has authorised the Ministers of Environment and Tourism and Finance to prepare draft regulations for the introduction of these measures as per established procedures through the Customs and Excise (Act No.20 of 1998); Environmental Investment Fund (Act No.13 of 2001); and Environmental Management (Act No. 7 of 2007).
In response to recent circulating messages on the restrictions or ban of plastic bags in national parks, the MET confirmed an amendment to the Regulation relating to the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1974 (4 of 1875) to restrict the use of plastic bags in national parks was approved and gazetted in 2017.
The ministry's spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, recently said these regulations are not yet being implemented as the ministry is still putting measures and systems in place before enforcement and full implementation.
He noted such systems and measures include amongst others, the provision of waste or plastics disposal bins and proper signage at each park entry to inform the park visitors, residents and tourists accordingly.
In this regard, Muyunda said the ministry is developing modalities for implementing these regulations in national parks and such modalities and the ministry will communicate an implementation plan very soon.
According to him, the intention is to ensure national parks are clean and free of plastic bags, considering their harmful nature to the wildlife and the environment.
Equally, he said, as environment and tourism, has the view that all types of litter negatively affect the pristine nature of Namibia's environment, the quality of life of its population and create a bad impression among visitors.
"It is our considered view that plastic bags warrant particular attention and regulatory measures to curb their use. This is mainly because of their prevalence, visibility, durability and the harmful effects they have on our wildlife, humans, livestock, aquatic biota and the broader environment," he elaborated.
Nghitila initiated the topic in 2015 and gave a concrete timeline recently at the ninth After-Work-Talk of the Environmental Economics Network of Namibia, under the topic 'The introduction of a plastic bag levy - an option for Namibia?'
The panellists, who included environment specialists, retail businessmen and financial experts in government, were all in favour of the introduction of the levy. Key issues around plastic bags include the banning of all 'problem' plastics entering Namibia that contain Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3), assessing of plastics that are produced locally, the regulation thereof and the reinvestment of the levy revenue into environmental activities.