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Plastic Packaging jittery as campaign heats up

Fri, 20 January 2017 15:38
by Kelvin Chiringa

Plastic Packaging faces an uncertain future after the launch of the zero plastic late last year once the government throws its weight behind it.
The zero plastic campaign that was launched by Miss Earth Namibia Elize Shakalela advocates for the use of bio-degradable material.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) banned micro-plastics two years ago after about 300 million ton of plastics had been produced worldwide.
Plastic Packaging’s managing director Jaco Venter met Shakalela a few days ago to explain the whole plastic production process.
Shakalela told The Villager that they could not find common ground.  
She also said Venter spoke about the company’s recycling efforts and how sometimes they get used plastics from Rent-a-drum.
According to Shakalela, Venter said the problem is not the plastics but rather people who dispose them improperly.
She, however, said this is where she disagreed with Venter because she believes the problem is both the plastic and the people.
Plastic Packaging has about 500 workers in its three factories in Namibia, while the company that also owns two distribution companies in South Africa has annual sales estimated at N$600 million.
Health minister Bernard Haufiku told The Villager that Plastic Packaging wrote to him regarding the ban.
Haufiku, however, rubbished and labeled the company’s justification for using plastics as “unconvincing.”
“The big question is, is plastic bio-degradable or not? I understand Plastic Packaging’s concern because they are in the industry - making money. They pay people and so forth.
“The whole world is moving away from non-bio-degradable material and so we need to protect the environment. If they have a solution other than banning of plastic, then they must lay it on the table,” Haufiku said.
He also said that he was aware that Plastic Packaging will fight but that life and the environment are bigger.
Haufiku said people try to convince government in the interest of money without looking at the bigger picture.
“Nothing can stand against the environment,” he said.
Although Haufiku said some people were reckless when it comes to waste plastic disposal, he insisted that the best way to deal with the problem was an outright ban.
Venter told The Villager that plastic bags are a great choice when it comes to preserving the environment if properly reused and disposed of.
He said the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) said plastics present less environmental challenges than competing products such as paper.
Venter said Haufiku’s statements contradict government’s Vision 2030 pledge to grow the already bleeding manufacturing industry.
“Jobs would be in jeopardy, and more consumers would switch to environmentally unfriendly paper bags,” said Venter.
He said that government should rather crack down on the widespread use of bags containing Calcium Carbonate which are being imported from SA.