South Africa continues to drown in plastic pollution while ANC dithers

Issued by Dave Bryant MP – DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
05 Jun 2023 in News

Plastic pollution across South Africa is at epidemic proportions and is continuing to get worse in areas under ANC control. In these areas it is the local residents and NGOs who have to step in to assist, and many continue to fight an uphill battle without any support from ANC-led governments. Local residents and businesses deal with the impacts of plastic pollution on a daily basis and often it is the poorest of the poor who suffer the worst consequences.

The impact of plastic pollution on wildlife, in particular seabirds and fish is devastating and the ingestion of plastic products can lead to further risks to humans who eat the affected seafood. It is clear that ANC-run provinces and municipalities have no real plans to deal with the gargantuan scale of plastic pollution and this is exacerbated by a growing lack of landfill space and the complete breakdown of many recycling programmes in ANC-controlled areas.

Other African countries such as Kenya have been able to implement complete bans on certain types of plastic waste, while the ANC government has only been able to implement a tax on plastic bags. The plastic bag fund was subsequently found to have been pilfered and millions of rands stolen by corrupt officials.

Recycling is an important component of the fight against plastic waste, but the best way to reduce the amount of plastic is by curbing single-use plastics completely wherever possible. Whilst all South Africans can play a role in reducing their own consumption, a far more significant impact will come via the implementation of bold legislation on a National level. South Africa imports massive amounts of plastic waste from surrounding SADC countries but the ANC government is still only able to recycle less than 10% of our own country’s plastic waste. This is unacceptably low.

Forward thinking DA governments, such as those in the Western Cape are working via both our provincial and local administrations to reduce the amount of waste to landfill.

Our governments run award-winning awareness programmes to help empower local residents in an effort to reduce littering and dumping of plastic:

  • The DA-run City of Cape Town has developed a free app for residents showing buy-back centers, drop off points and recycling collectors across the metro, all of which are given constant attention and support from the municipality;
  • The City of Cape Town also runs the only free home composting programme in the country with thousands of free composters delivered to homes across the city;
  • The DA-run Stellenbosch municipality has opened a state-of-the-art waste material recovery facility, which was launched by Mayor Gesie van Deventer in 2021. This has helped to improve the quality of recycled products and provide a more central area for recycling activities to take place;
  • The DA-run government in Kouga built the first municipal road made from recycled plastic;
  • The DA-run Overstrand municipality showed incredible resilience in building back and further improving their recycling operation after the main facility was burned down during riots in 2018.

Even so, DA-run governments such as the City of Cape Town still have their hands full dealing with ongoing plastic pollution. In order for the fight against plastic pollution to succeed, we need the National government to act decisively.

A DA-run National Government will put an immediate focus on reducing the amount of single-use plastic products and will roll-out effective campaigns countrywide to rejuvenate our natural environment after so many years of ANC neglect. Ultimately, we need a government that will work together with all South Africans in the best interest of our people and our fragile environment.

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