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Commitment to phase out problematic plastics in SA

December 2022

Picture: Volodymyr Hryschenko/Unsplash

Meander Chronicle Reporter

The SA Plastics Pact has published the first list of problematic and unnecessary plastics for phasing out by the end of 2022.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) welcomed the action of the pact, and members, for making a timebound commitment to phase out 12 “problematic and unnecessary” plastics by the end of next year.

In a press release the WWF said: “The SA Plastics Pact has become the fourth international pact to publish this first list of problematic and unnecessary plastics, joining the UK Plastics Pact, Chilean Plastics Pact and Portuguese Plastics Pact.”

The list of 12 plastic items which will be phased out is as follows:
Oxo-degradable plastics;
PVC bottles, pallet wrap and labels;
PVC and PET shrink sleeve labels;
Plastic stickers on fruit and vegetables;
Thin barrier bags for fruit and vegetables;
Thin barrier bags used at tills;
Plastic straws;
Plastic stirrers;
Single-use plastic cutlery, plates and bowls;
Cotton buds with plastic stems;
Plastic lollipop sticks;
Plastic microbeads in cosmetics;

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Plastic straws are included on the 12 items to be phased out by the end of 2022.

Captured in a publication titled, “Addressing problematic and unnecessary plastics”, this is an initial list of plastic items to be widely addressed in South Africa. Members of the SA Plastics Pact have pledged to stop producing, distributing, selling or using the items on this first list – by December 2022. The publication also lists items identified for inclusion in a second list, which is to be published in due course.

Unnecessary

According to the recent report, “unnecessary plastics” are those that can be avoided (or replaced by a reuse model) while maintaining utility. It defines “problematic plastics” as having the following characteristics:
Plastics that are not reusable, recyclable (technically and/or economically not recyclable) or compostable;
Plastics that contain, or which manufacturing process requires, hazardous chemicals that pose a significant risk to human health or the environment;
Plastics which hinder or disrupt the recyclability or compostability of other items.; and
Plastics for which there is a high likelihood of being littered or ending up in the natural environment.

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Plastic bottles have a devastating affect on our oceans and marine life. Picture: Mariman Mesharrafa/Unsplash

Lorren de Kock, WWF’s project manager: circular plastics economy, commented: “Plastic pollution has devastating impacts on wildlife, damages natural ecosystems, and contributes to climate change. Hence, this bold and timebound commitment from pact members is a great step towards curbing major threats to both environmental and human health which stem from the ever-growing production and subsequent consumption of plastic.”

“As a catalyst of the pact, WWF is proud of this significant milestone that members have achieved in the progress towards their targets to address the design, production, use, recovery and recycling of plastic packaging by 2025.”

At the source

The SA Plastics Pact is a collaborative pre-competitive initiative that brings together key stakeholders from the local plastics value chain, including businesses, the South African government, Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs), NGOs and other key players to tackle plastic waste and pollution at its source.

The message has gone out to get rid of plastic cutlery. Picture: Supplied

Members aim to stimulate industry-led innovation, dialogue and collaboration to create new business models, generate job opportunities, and unlock barriers to move towards a circular economy for plastic, in line with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision of a “New Plastics Economy”.

**Founding members of the SA Plastics Pact, according to the WWF, include Pick n Pay; Polyoak Packaging; Spar; Spur Group; Tiger Brands; Woolworths; Tuffy; Distell; Unilever and Clicks. Business members include Coca Cola; RCL Foods; Addis; MPact. Supporting members include the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment; Fruit SA; Petco; Liberty; WWF; Plastics SA.

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