Last week marked the deadline for public comments on amendments to the plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags regulations under the Environment Conservation Act. While the amendment is a commendable move, to some extent it lacks a common-sense approach.
If history can be factored in, consider the significant role of the deposit system: a customer was charged a refundable deposit for packaging material (in this instance, soft-drink bottles). A similar approach can be applied to the plastic scourge, incentivising consumers to play a critical role in fostering the circular economy.
The plastic bag levy should not be regarded as a source of revenue to decrease the fiscal deficit; it ought to be used for what it was intended for.
A refundable deposit system for all packaging materials can help solve the riddle of environmental pollution. We do not have liberty to waste any time in creating a clean, litter-free, healthy and safe environment. Doing that requires common sense, willingness, a simple plan and ruthless execution.
Sithembiso Malusi Mahlaba
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