Namibia bans plastic bags in nature parks - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection

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Namibia bans plastic bags in nature parks

Avatar of inke inke - 11. December 2018 - Environment

A new board bans plastic bags at national parks in Namibia. (Photo: Brigitte Weidlich)

Brigitte Weidlich

The Namibian Government has banned plastic bags in national parks and nature reserves as from 22 November 2018. Visitors and their vehicles will be searched at park entrances. A spot fine of N$500 (about 32 Euros) must be paid, when found with forbidden plastic bags inside a park by officials. Alternatively, a prison term of up to six months could be ordered or both a fine and imprisonment. Some plastic bags – defined below - will be exempted.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, announced the plastic bag ban at a public event at the entrance gate to the Daan-Viljoen-Park a few kilometres west of Windhoek. “The ban is with immediate effect as form today, 22 November 2018,” the Minister declared. 

“This step signifies our serious commitment to control pollution in our country in line with the recently launched National Solid Waste Management Strategy, the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and the third UN Sustainable Development Goal on health and well being,” he added.

"I would specifically wish to inform the nation and tourists visiting our country that plastic bags are banned in our protected areas. The Government Gazette No. 6285 of April 2017 amended the regulations of the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975 with the insertion of a new provision that no person shall enter a game park or nature reserve with a plastic bag", Shifeta stated.

At the entrance of each government park waste bins for recycling will be placed so that visitors can dispose of the plastic bags before entering a park.

The following plastic bags are, however, allowed:

- bags designed to be used for the disposal of waste (refuse bags);
- bags designed for agricultural purposes;
- bags used for sampling or analysis;
- bags that constitute, or form an integral part of, the packaging in which goods are sealed for sale; or
- are transparent re-sealable bags.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET) also urged tour operators, tourism associations and the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) to convey this message and new measures to their respective clients and customers.

The ministry has been working on this project since 2015 and is taking the matter further. 

In August 2018, the Cabinet has endorsed the proposals as recommended by a Cabinet Committee at the request of the MET on the introduction of environmental levy on plastic carrier bags, with the full revenue amount from this levy going to the Ministry’s Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) for improved waste management practices.

In 2017 Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila, announced that a levy on plastic bags would be introduced to curb pollution in the Namibia, following closely in the steps of other African countries. Discussions are held with the Ministry of Finance how to best introduce and collect the levy. The retail sector still has to come on board, negotiations are continuing. “We will implement this levy in phases”, he said.

In addition, the import and domestic production of plastic bags containing carbonic acid, calcium salt will be banned in due course. 

In the meantime several retailers and supermarkets have started to encourage customers to opt for durable shopping bags. They can either buy them for a small fee or can bring ten plastic bags with the logo of a specific supermarket and receive a long lasting shopping bag.

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