Environmental activists are finally having their voices heard by the Western Cape Government on banning plastic bags.
At the weekend DA MP James Vos tabled a motion prohibiting the sale and distribution of plastic bags. Vos proposed that only 100 % recyclable plastic bags should be permitted and those should be “biodegradable under appropriate aerobic or anaerobic conditions”.
“Plastic bag wastage has a devastating effect on the environment, posing danger to humans and wildlife,” said Vos.
In a motion passed, he proposed that government effect a provincial levy on plastic shopping bags. The revenue would then be used “to subsidise the plastic bag collection and its return to the recycling system and also subsidise reusable bags for poor consumers” the motion read.
The Shadow Minister of Tourism emphasised that environmental issues are as important as human issues. “We need to deal with environmental issues in the same way we deal with people’s issues as you cannot disconnect the one from the other.”
According to the motion, less than 1% of the 350 million vest-type plastic shopping bags purchased in the province are recycled, the rest ends up in landfills, blocking the drainage system.
Many countries have bravely taken a stand to ban the use of bags while others charge a tax.
In 2003, the South African government passed a legislation to levy plastic shopping bags, but, according to research conducted by ScienceDirect, this did not have much success as consumers are still buying bags despite the increase in prices. The question is, what is the most effective way to reduce plastic usage? Ban or increasing the tax further?