#beatplasticpollution in Malawi

#BEATPLASTICPOLLUTION

75,000 tonnes of plastic is currently produced in Malawi each year, of which 80% is single-use plastic that cannot be recycled.

Globally, 300 million tons of plastic waste are now produced every year, almost equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. The majority of plastic waste ends up in in landfills, dumps, and the environment, causing untold, irreversible harm to people, animals, and habitats.

Plastic waste can persist in the environment for centuries and Malawi’s waste management solutions are not equipped to handle current, let alone projected, plastic waste production.

That’s why we’re taking a stand. 

“The evidence is clear: if thin plastics use continues unabated we can expect degraded soils, worsening crop yields, reduced fish stocks, increased floods, declining human health, and losses in tourism revenue. Let us take swift and decisive action before it is too late.”
Hon Commodius Nyirenda
Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus
“Tackling plastic pollution is crucial to achieving sustainable development, which is why targets on this issue are woven into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We welcome Malawi joining the growing number of countries across Africa that are tackling plastic pollution and upholding a common vision for a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous future.”
Andrew Spezowka
Portfolio Manager, UNDP for Resilience and Sustainable Growth


The court case

Back in 2015, amidst growing concerns about plastic pollution, the Government of Malawi implemented a nationwide ban on the production and use of thin plastics, However, this decision was successfully challenged by the plastics industry.

Now, on 16 April 2019, the case will come to the Supreme Court where the highest judges in Malawi will rule on whether to impose the ban once more. 

Should the Supreme Court decide to reinstate the ban, Malawi will join 62 countries that have prohibited the production of lightweight plastics. Additionally, in March 2019, the European Union voted to ban single-use plastics across Europe by 2021.

UPDATE: 16 April 2019 — NO DECISION ON PLASTICS BAN

The Supreme Court of Malawi has this morning said it cannot rule on whether to reinstate the national ban on thin plastics which was originally imposed in 2015 but is currently being appealed by the The Plastics Manufacturers Association.

The Government today presented a case to dismiss the plastics industry’s appeal. If the Government’s case had been successful it would have effectively brought the ban back into force. However, Justice Kamanga refused to dismiss the appeal, stating that any ruling must be made on more “substantive” grounds than were provided to this point. A full hearing of the appeal will now take place.

Both sides now have until 31 May to submit the record of appeal, after which the Court can set a date for the appeal hearing. The ban on thin plastics remains suspended until the appeal is concluded.

Commenting on this morning’s proceedings, Jonny Vaughan, CEO of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, said, “It is hugely frustrating that the fight for a plastic ban has continued to be delayed. Public, political, and scientific opinion have all been shown to support a crackdown on thin plastics. A ban will help to create a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous Malawi for all. Lilongwe Wildlife Trust will continue to work in partnership with our allies to push for the change that is needed.”

Supreme Court: No ruling on plastics ban

Plastics in Malawi: The assessment

In April 2019, findings from an independent assessment — commissioned by the Malawi Government with support from UNDP and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust — were conclusive on the negative social, environmental, and economic impacts of plastics pollution. The 64-page report was led by South African consultant, Dr Jane Turpie, and included an extensive review of international scientific studies to compliment interviews and data collected from 45 invited government, NGO, and private sector contributors in Malawi. You can read our 4 page summary of the assessment's findings below. The full report is available on request by emailing trust@lilongwewildlife.org.

The survey

In April, we launched survey to test public opinion on the issue of plastic pollution in Malawi and the prospect of a nationwide ban. The results we got, from over 1,500 respondents, were unequivocal in their concern about the dangers of plastic and in their support for the ban, You can see some of the key findings below and you can read the full results by clicking the button.

– 94% of people support a ban on thin plastics
– 95% of people believe plastic pollution is a serious issue for Malawi
– 97% of people believe that plastic waste poses a risk to people, animals, and the environment

The open letter

As part of our campaign to end plastic pollution in Malawi, we have signed an open letter addressed to the Government of Malawi urging it to introduce the thin plastics ban on 16 April 2019. Alongside a mixture of NGOs, private organisations, and public sector groups, we have pledged our support for the ban as a crucial first step in the fight against plastic pollution.

You can read the full open letter below.

News and resources

The press conference

The press release

UNDP statement

What you can do

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