To raise awareness of the impact of single-use plastic on oceans and waterways, members of the Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Portfolio Committee have been cleaning up Cape Town. They cleared the Bokmachieri canal along the Jan Smoots Drive in Hazendaal.
About 2.3 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually in South Africa, according to a statement from the portfolio committee. Of these, only about 14% is recycled.
“South Africa has a tight waste management system that relies on landfills. As a result, around 80,000 tons of plastic end up in the South African environment every year, while such debris enters and blocks water and drainage systems, leading to increased flooding and the spread of disease, damaging biodiversity and posing a threat to human health and the economy,” – said in the portfolio committee.
Single-use plastic is of particular concern, the committee said.
“More than 30 African countries have implemented total or partial bans on single-use plastic bags, which is remarkable given that legislation is an essential tool to protect citizens’ rights, regulate production and allocate responsibility,” MPs said.
Attorney Dave Bryant, who cleaned up the canal, called for a tougher stance on single-use plastic bags.
“We really need to start rethinking our approach to single-use plastic products. Many other African countries, for example, have either banned such products or are taking a much more assertive stance. The impact that plastics have not only on conduits such as this one, but also on our river systems and oceans, on the health of seabirds and fish, and in turn human life, is one about which we must take much tougher stance,” he said.
“We are trying to raise awareness of the problem among the population. We, as Members of Parliament, are going to lead this project to teach our communities not to litter,” said Faith Muthambi, chair of the committee.