DA aims to ban unrecyclable plastic shopping bags in Western Cape

Plastic shopping bag. (iStock)
Plastic shopping bag. (iStock)

Cape Town – The DA-led Western Cape government has been mandated to pass legislation to prohibit the sale and distribution of plastic shopping bags that aren’t 100% recyclable.

This after a motion to this effect was passed at the DA’s Western Cape Congress on Saturday.

It was the only motion heard at the congress, and it was brought by DA MP James Vos and seconded by DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis.

The motion proposes that the DA-led provincial government in the Western Cape passes legislation to give effect to a prohibition on the sale and distribution of vest-type plastic shopping bags unless they:

- Are 100% recyclable (containing 0% chalk filler);

- Are made from 100% recycled post-consumer waste;

- Contain 1.5% biodegradable additive to render them fully biodegradable under appropriate aerobic or anaerobic conditions, assuming such additive, meeting specified requirements, is readily available in SA.

Plastic bag levy

The motion also proposes that the Western Cape passes legislation to give effect to a provincial levy on plastic shopping bags.

"We’ll be the only province putting forward such progressive legislation," Vos told the congress before the vote.

Vos said the motion is the outcome of the work of a study group and included talks with the industry.

Hill-Lewis said they have already worked on a draft bill to give effect to the motion.

The motion reads that less than 1% of the 350 million plastic shopping bags purchased in the Western Cape each year are recycled. 

"Instead they end up in landfills or blow out of bins or garbage trucks— blocking storm drains, getting stuck in trees or littering rivers and beaches – all highly undesirable outcomes. In nature, plastic breaks into smaller pieces, but never fully disappears – it breaks up not down, contaminating our food and water," the motion reads.

More than 20 states have passed legislation in the last 15 years to ban or significantly reduce plastic shopping bags use, the latest being Kenya, where a complete ban and steep penalties for transgression became effective in September 2017. Other countries include Rwanda, Tanzania, Morocco, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, France, Italy, and China.

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