Drive to regulate plastic waste in the Southern Africa

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By Keketso Moalosi and Puseletso Mohlatsane

Southern African member states with the assistance of the Africa institute together with, Basel Convention and Stockholm Convention held the inception workshop of a regional project on developing a regional strategy toward the Environmentally sound management and controlled transboundary movement of plastic waste in the SADC region and strengthening regional capacity in Maseru.

Delegates who participated in the Maseru Held Lesotho Inception Workshop shared project information and the responsibilities of the Africa Institute.

The KDNews learned that the SADC region is undertaking the project owing to the fact that it “has not undertaken significant coordinated action addressing plastic waste”.

The region also “does not have harmonized data sets or regional strategy for the environmentally sound management (ESM) and control of transboundary movement (TBM) of plastic waste to serve as a basis for priority setting, policy and regulation development and implementation”.

KDNews learned some states have adopted approaches to a total ban on certain plastic use and consumption, some have taken a more cautious approach to encourage the development of robust plastic waste management systems that promote the collection, sorting, and recycling activities and others have taken a more piecemeal approach.

KDNews also learned that the project aims to build on the results of BRs-Norad-1 and test key Basel Convention guidance, including the draft updated technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of plastic waste and practical guidance on the development of inventories for plastic waste.

On behalf of the Africa Institute, Thandeka Mbatha discussed the overview of the project, activities and budget, showing that the project will lay a strong foundation for an effective, coordinated, and well-planned approach to environmentally sound management and control of the transboundary movement of plastic waste that involves all key stakeholders.

She further said the project is “based on concrete data, unique and common characteristics of the participating countries and guidance of the Basel Convention in particular, the waste plastic Amendment”

Mbatha also said the regional project will be implemented in 5 countries whereby Lesotho is included with the budget of USD 177 150 which will be shared equally in a 12 months period.

Thabo Tšasanyane speaking of national plastic waste and inventory methodology and timelines, from the Department of Environment, said plastics pollute the environment, therefore, there is a need to accommodate seasonal variation and national geographical distribution to identify major plastic waste generators, collecting data and verify site-specific data per sector.

Moleboheng Petlane also from the Department of Environment said through the waste legislation in Lesotho, the environment Act 2008 and the local Government Act 1997, there should also be drafted solid waste management bills and plastic levy regulations.

Meanwhile, Maleshoane Mohanoe from Pheha Plastic—a non-profit organization that recycles plastic—which is located in Morija said she is grateful that there will be a project that will focus on plastic recycling.

Mohanoe said there are challenges facing her organization that include a limited working space and resources to recycle plastics.

She however pleaded with the government to expand plastic waste centres in other districts to create an enabling environment for recycling businesses to thrive.