Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
More than 83 percent of conventional supermarkets, fast food outlets and retail shops have complied with the directive on the ban of the use of kaylite (polystyrene) food packaging. The problem is still with backyard food outlets that have not been complying. In an interview, Environmental Management Agency provincial manager for Midlands, Mr Milton Muusha said EMA officers were out in full force inspecting and enforcing daily to ensure compliance.
Mr Muusha said EMA had fined some non-compliant fast food outlets in Gokwe North.
According to statistics released by EMA, Zvishavane had 75 percent compliance rate, Mberengwa had 81 percent, Chirumanzu 65 percent, Gokwe North had 92 percent, Gweru 95 percent and Kwekwe 90 percent.
“As you are aware, the extension on the deadline of the use of kaylite was reversed and then the ban immediately became effective,” said Mr Muusha.
“We have noticed that all the big players have complied, that is to say big retailers, supermarkets and fast food outlets.
“We, however, still have challenges with backyard industries and other small players. Our officers are out there in full force doing inspections and whoever is seen or found using these kaylites will be prosecuted. Our officers are doing the inspections everyday and are responding to tip off by the public.”
Government banned the use of kaylites and related plastic packaging material last month, citing health hazards and pollution.
Exposure to chemicals emitted by heated kaylite causes headaches, weakness, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal and minor kidney effects.
It also decreases concentration abilities and may cause irritation of the mucous membrane and affect the eyes, nose and throat. Studies have shown that increased styrene exposure leads to chromosomal damage, abnormal pulmonary function and cancer.
With emphasis on reusing and recycling of materials, polystyrene cannot be recycled, while its non-biodegradable nature means it is ingested by aquatic animals that humans later consume.
In a statement announcing the ban of kaylites last week, Ambassador Nsimbi said: “The Environmental Management Agency has with immediate effect activated Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012 (Plastic Packaging and Plastic Bottles) (Amendment) Regulations, 2012 (No 1.), which prohibits the manufacture or importation of expanded polystyrene (kaylite) for use or commercial distribution within Zimbabwe.”
The ban follows a call by Environment, Water and Climate Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri to heavily punish councils, companies and individuals that pollute the environment.