New by-law to encourage supermarkets to charge for plastic bags

Swakopmund is once again at the forefront of environmental conservation: The local authority wants to introduce a unique by-law obliging supermarkets and businesses to charge customers a fee for plastic bags in the hope of eliminating the illiterate use of plastic bags and to curb pollution.
If all goes to plan the unique by-law can already be in place by as early as August this year – this is the timeline the municipality is aiming for. Swakopmund will thereafter be the first local authority in Namibia to promote the responsible use of plastic bags and regulate the usage of such.
The item was discussed at the recent Town Council meeting after an Environmental Trust made a presentation to Council a few months ago. The Otto Herrigel Environmental Trust is run by Mrs Karin Herrigel, Otto Herrigel’s widow. The late Mr Otto Herrigel was a keen environmentalist, farmer and politician who loved his country. To continue his legacy Mrs Karin Herrigel created the Trust to promote, educate and preserve the environment.
During an audience with the Swakopmund Council, the Trust presented a short film shot in the area of Swakopmund. It shows the waste created by humans and what effect it has on other species. “It is graphically showing the result of bad waste management by the majority of the population in Swakopmund,” it states in the Agenda.
The Trust’s primary goal is to reduce the volume of waste plastic that is blighting the beautiful landscape which is not only ugly, but also harmful to the animals, marine and plant life, the very resources that sustain the existence of humans.
The Trust also revealed statistics indicating that once supermarkets charge a levy for any plastic bag given to shoppers, the amount of bags used will be reduced by roughly 75% in the first six months – if not more. These figures are based on European studies where this levy has already been introduced. “Shoppers will soon understand the value of a plastic bag and treat it as a valuable commodity rather than trash, creating more responsibility amongst the public,” it states.
The idea of charging customers for plastic bags in Swakopmund is not new. In 2009 the idea was contemplated for the first time but it was halted due to some stakeholders not wanting to come on board. “Back then the City of Windhoek wanted to develop a national by-law, which is why we halted our process but to date there is no record of any progress in this regard. That is why we decided to take the matter in our own hands,” said Clive Lawrence, GM Health Services at the municipality, to namib times.
While considering the recently approved Waste Management Policy, Swakopmund is now busy drawing up a draft of the new by-law. This will then be open for public scrutiny before Town Council and the relevant ministries are required to put their stamp of approval on it. “We have already had two stakeholder engagements and will have further meetings soon,” Lawrence continued. The aim is to have the new by-law in place by as early as August.
“Ultimately we want residents to make use of replacement bags for their shopping,” Lawrence concluded.

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