By Wezi Tjaronda
Namibia’s plastic industry has embarked on a process of managing plastic waste in the country.
The industry wants to formulate mechanisms that will guide the management of plastic and other waste as well as develop the plastic waste recycling industry as a mechanism to deal with plastic wastes.
This would also lead to job creation while limiting the use of petroleum-based raw materials that the industry uses as well as reduce the use of landfill sites.
Plastics Packaging Sales Director Jaco Venter, whose company organised the workshop on plastic and waste management, said people could derive an income from the collection of plastic bags.
This could be through issuing car guards with refuse bags to collect all plastic waste from vehicles or by using the green system (bags) for households to fill with recyclable material for reuse.
These measures follow the realisation that the plastic bag problem exists in Namibia and needs to be addressed. Apart from being an eyesore when littered, lots of animals and organisms mistake plastic waste for food. Plastic is made from petrol by-products, whose process of extraction is environmentally unfriendly.
South Africa has regulations that govern the sale of shopping carrier bags and recycling of plastic waste.
Venter told New Era yesterday the industry wanted to be proactive before the Namibian Government goes the similar route as its southern neighbour. He said plastic bags, which almost every country uses because they are durable and economical to use, are a problem when people litter. Other problems are glass and aluminium cans.
He said the industry will continue to meet and come up with ideas that will form part of the documents which will be served on the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as the way forward for the plastic industry’s waste management guide.
A statement from the Namibia Manufacturers Association said the workshop agreed that Namibia should accept the plastic problem as a much bigger waste management problem.
The meeting resolved to educate the public to avoid littering and to reuse, recycle and separate recyclable waste materials at the source.
Venter said there should be a system that separates waste from the source into recyclable and non-recyclable waste, which is done at municipal dumpsites at present. This, he said, is a health hazard for those that separate the waste as it is done in very dirty conditions.
Another proposal at the workshop was to make producers take responsibility for the environmental compatibility of their products and by involving producers and sellers of plastic products and packaging directly in the recovery and recycling process.
A follow-up meeting will be held to consider refining and implementation of the proposals made.
Manufacturers of plastic bags and packaging material, distributors and sales agents of plastic packaging materials, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, retailers and whosalers, the Municipality of Windhoek, private waste collectors, recyclers of plastic products, the Plastics Federation of South Africa and the Namibia Manufacturers Association took part in the first workshop.