DEA to clamp down on plastic bag producers

THE Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has committed itself to ensure that manufacturers of plastic carrier bags adhere to regulations to promote recycling and lessen the impact on the environment.

In a statement issued by the DEA, it noted its concern regarding an article that highlighted that “millions of branded plastic supermarket carrier bags claimed to be recycled are not.”

This was published in the Sunday Times on 9 April 2017.

The article alleged that “to cut costs, the plastic manufacturers, known as converters, started adding chalk (calcium carbonate) as a cheap filler to the mix, sabotaging the mechanical process used to recycle the bag.”

The department takes the allegations contained in article seriously and will be liaising with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) and the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to ensure that manufacturers of plastic carrier bags comply with the regulatory requirements and standards of their products.

In a bold move, plastic bag regulations were introduced in a bid to address the challenge of plastic bag litter.

The regulations made the provision of thicker, more durable plastic bags compulsory.

The compulsory specification was subsequently developed prescribing that only plastic carrier bags and flat bags of the minimum thickness of 24 microns can be manufactured or imported into the country.

In terms of the regulations, the plastic bags ought to be recyclable, thereby making them more environmentally friendly.

Since the inception of the levy in 2004, the National Treasury has collected the Plastic Bag Levy.

The money collected goes into the National Revenue Fund and National Treasury allocates a portion of it to the DEA for regulation of the thickness of plastic bags.

The collected levy can only be allocated to recycling programmes, following submission to the National Treasury.

It is for this reason that the DEA has allocated a budget of R155 million towards regulation of the thickness of plastic bags, and to support recycling initiatives for a period of three financial years.

The funds are administered through the Waste Bureau.

The waste recycling economy will not only eliminate threats to the environment, but also positively contribute to the growth and development of South Africa’s economy.



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Lloyd Mackenzie

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