Ethiopia to restrict the use of plastic products

The Director of Compliance, Monitoring and Control at Ethiopian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr Mehari Wendimagegn, presenting a paper on plastic products in Addis Ababa, March 29, 2016. ANDUALEM SISAY | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Ethiopia is set to begin penalising the importers and manufacturers of non-reusable and non-biodegradable plastic bags.

A director in the Environment ministry, Mr Mehari Wendimagegn, said the market was still full of non-reusable plastic bags of less than 0.03mm thickness despite the law banning their importation and production.

"It was time to take legal and administrative actions against those who continue to produce plastic bags in violation of the law,” said Mr Mehari, who presented a paper on the plastic materials in Addis Ababa Tuesday morning.

The factories

Mr Mehari reiterated that it was mandatory for the factories or plastic bags importers to affix a label indicating the material their products were made of.

"We will also start charging the factories which continue to produce the less than 0.03mm thickness plastics,” he said.

The harmful effects of the discarded plastic materials include the pollution of waster sources and the soil and the blocking of drainages and sewerage systems.

The production

Out of Ethiopia's 21 factories covered in a study, 14 were found to engage in the production of around 8,000 tons of less 0.03mm thickness plastic bags per annum.

Mr Mehari noted that the law on plastic materials had not been enforced due to several challenges, including the lack of awareness by the public, manufacturers and imports about the seriousness of the damage they caused to the environment, animals and human health and the economy in general.

Heavy burden

He pointed out that lack of proper coordination among various regulatory agencies was also to blame for the plastic wastes menace.

Environment minister Shiferaw Teklemariam stated that non-reusable and non-biodegradable plastic bags were a heavy burden on the Ethiopian economy.

“Though we understand that we not done enough in creating awareness about the law and the harmful impact of these plastic materials, we need to start enforcing the law,” the minister said.

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