be banned following the ban on thin plastic shopping bags.
Using powers given in the Environment Management Act, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources banned shopping bags less than 30 micrometres thick except when these are used to pack delicate food like bread, have a wall thickness of between 25 and 30 micrometers and are biodegradable.
Since then almost supermarkets have finished remaining stocks of the thin bags, which they used to give away for free, and are now selling thicker bags, which the Ministry believes are recyclable and so allowable, for around 10c a bag, although larger bags sell for 30c.
Shops say they have to sell the thicker bags as they cost a lot more than the old thin bags.
The Environmental Management Agency, says its Educational and Publicity Manager Mr Steady Kangata, would like to see shoppers exploring other options such as cloth shopping bags, paper bags and shopping baskets, all made of materials that are perfectly re-usable and also decomposable.
Now the ministry is turning its eyes to the kaylite, or expanded polystyrene, containers so popular for take away meals although some takeaways have already switched to cardboard, a biodegradable material.
“The fast food industry must start thinking of alternative packaging as polystyrene is a menace to the environment and cannot be absorbed in the ecosystem,” said Mr Kangata.
Consultations on bans on forms of plastic packaging started in 2008 to get the views of all stakeholders such as plastic manufacturers, retailers association and consumers, and again when the first bans were gazetted.
After debate it was agreed that six months could be allowed for the switchover.
Mr Kangata said the old thin plastic bags could not easily decompose, were not easily recyclable and were very fragile.
Sewers had been clogged and in communal areas plastic bags killed livestock when eaten.
The ban would now be enforced and if anyone was still giving them to shoppers they could be fined or even jailed.
Mr Kangata said the EMA would allow the use of thick plastic bags since they were recyclable and so far fewer would be needed.
More groceries could also be packed in each thick bag he noted.
Mr Kangata said there was no directive from EMA to sell the thicker bags, but retailers say that they need to recover costs.
Meanwhile, EMA will soon take city councils to task over the sporadic clearing of refuse and garbage especially on street corners and wetlands
They will also be up in arms against motorists with smoking vehicles following complaints by other road users that they are contributing to the pollution of air and cause accidents during bad weather.