South Africa to review its policy on plastics – including a possible straw ban

The Department of Environmental Affairs is currently reviewing its policy on single-use plastics and hopes to complete this process by the end of this financial year, says environment minister Barbara Creecy, replying in a parliamentary Q&A session this week.

“It is a matter of public record that the management of plastics in the world generally, and in our own country, is sub-optimal,” Creecy said.

“Consequently, this is an important area to which we must respond if we are to protect our oceans.”

The minister said that the review will include discussions with the retail, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors as well as the paper and packaging industries on ways to combat the use of one time plastics and their disposal management.

Ban on straws

In February, the Department of Environmental Affairs said that it was in talks to phase out or completely ban plastic products like straws and microbeads in the country.

According to Mark Gordon, the department’s deputy director-general for chemical and waste management, the single-use products are considered to be unfriendly to the environment.

He added that single-use plastic products like earbuds, straws, stirrers, table cups, tableware and polystyrene packaging were especially harmful to the marine sector.

“We have started a discussion document that we have shared with a number of stakeholders and we are in the process of inviting comments around it,” he said.

“I think we presented previously around this on what would be their replacements.

“We know that to some extent there has been a replacement of plastic straws with paper straws and I am not sure if everybody likes it. There are bamboo straws, there are stainless steel reusable straws,” he said.

Read: Pick n Pay trials plastic and packaging-free fruit and veg section

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South Africa to review its policy on plastics – including a possible straw ban