Botswana is Banning Plastic Bags
25 July 2018
Plastic bags, among other plastic products such as straws and bottles, are causing major environmental issues, particularly posing a threat to both marine and land wildlife. Most of us have seen the sad videos of turtles entangled in plastic bags, whales dying with their guts filled with kilograms of non-biodegradable plastic waste or the coastlines filled with ugly rubbish that was dumped in the ocean.
It is a global problem and countries across the world have taken measures to reduce the use of plastic. These laws include imposing a levy on those using plastic bags in places like Mozambique and Cambodia, particularly for shopping, or banning the use altogether.
The government of Botswana has decided to ban the use of both plastic carrier bags and flat plastic bags with or without fasteners. This comes into effect from the 1st of November this year (2018). This means that it will be considered an offense to have these plastic bags in the country, and tourists will also be affected and will need to know not to bring in plastic bags into the country. An offense is punishable with a fine of up to P 5000 (approx $500 depending on the exchange rate).
The deputy director in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Mr Frank Molebatsi "stated that repeat offenders are liable to a fine not exceeding P5,000 or a prison term not exceeding 30 days or to both...He said that in the past public education and awareness about the proper use of plastic bags to curb littering, promotion of its reduction, reuse, and recycling initiatives and development of compulsory standard (BOBS 186: 2006) regulated plastics based on their thickness. However, all these measures never yielded positive and sustainable results, said Molebatsi." (citinewsroom.com)
Alternatives to using plastic carrier bags is to have reusable bags such as recycled and bio-degradable tote bags. We very much like these ideas.
UPDATE 30 October 2018
The government of Botswana have postponed the plastic bag ban until further notice, while consultations on the implementation of the ban take place.
The permanent secretary in the tourism ministry in Botswana, Thato Raphaka, also said, "The public, business sector and stakeholders are encouraged to continue with the good work that they had started to reduce the negative impact of plastic bags on the environment, waterways and on livestock in Botswana."