Blessings Chidakwa and Charmaine Brown Herald Reporters
EIGHTY food outlets and vendors in Harare have been arrested and fined for using the expanded polystyrene material, commonly known as kaylite, which the Government banned in 2017 because of health and pollution concerns.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Harare provincial inspector Mr Gilbert Mugunzva confirmed the arrests last month, saying the law provided for offenders to be fined between $40 and $30 000.
He said the use of kaylite was dangerous as studies had shown that increased styrene exposure led to chromosomal damage, abnormal pulmonary function and cancer.
Speaking during a tour of plastic manufacturing company, Planas, in Willowvale, Harare, Mr Mugunzva said the agency would continue fighting to protect the environment and the health of people.
He said none of the offenders had been fined the maximum penalty yet as only distributors and not manufacturers, had so far been netted.
“Planas used to be the major producer of polystyrene but has since changed their production line and machines to produce the packaging material of high-density poly ethylene,” he said.
Mr Mugunzva said the new packaging could be recycled and did not produce styrene gas compared to the polystyrene which was banned.
“The advantage of the new packaging is that it has a high melting point and does not react with whatever it cannot contain. The plastics can be recycled to bring a new product unlike the kaylite which when it melts, produces styrene gas which causes cancer,” said Mr Mugunzva.
Planas sales and marketing manager Ms Melody Frank said when the kaylite was banned in Zimbabwe, they moved their machines to Zambia where kaylite was still allowed and invested in new machines to make a new plastic product.
“We can manufacture up to two million pieces per day and if the electricity supply improves, we will produce more plastics that we will even export,” she said.
Kaylite was banned in 2017 under 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.