Johannesburg, 02 September 2020 — The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has called for public comment on amendments to plastic bag regulations[1] which favour recycling, a false solution to the plastic pollution crisis. Greenpeace Africa is urging the public to join them in submitting comments to the Department’s Director General Pamela Nxumalo, calling for a complete ban on single-use plastic bags. 

“While it is encouraging that the South African government recognises that we need to act on the plastic pollution crisis, recycling is a false solution and will not yield any tangible results. We need a mindset shift away from single-use culture if we are to solve it. Greenpeace Africa is calling for a complete ban on these products, since only 9% of all plastic ever created has been recycled,” said Angelo Louw, Plastics Lead for Greenpeace Africa.

Greenpeace Africa has created a platform which directs public support from their website directly to Nxumalo’s email[2]. The call for comment allows for the organisation and supporters to engage the department in a meaningful and democratic way. 

“We can only defeat the plastic monster together. It cannot be allowed to threaten all of our lives, and we cannot allow the plastic industry to continue to mislead the public into believing that consumers are at fault. Instead, we must recognise that our collective strength is the best way to force a complacent government into action,” continued Louw.

Last year, Greenpeace Africa’s Cape Town volunteer group hand-delivered a petition, which gathered over 11 000 signatures, to South Africa’s top four political parties ahead of national elections, asking them to take the proposal of a single-use plastic ban to Parliament. Despite commitment by all parties involved, the conversation has not led to any meaningful political action. 

35 countries across the continent have either passed a law banning plastics and implemented it or have passed a law with the intention of implementation[3]. Plastic bans in Kenya and Rwanda have had tremendous impacts on safeguarding the environment, according to a recent UN Environment report[4]. Greenpeace Africa urges the South African government to follow suit and join other African countries leading in the global fight against plastic pollution. 


Notes to the editor 

[1] According to the currently proposed regulations, plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags must be made from a minimum of 50% post-consumer recyclate from January 1, 2023, 75% recycled materials from 2025 and must comprise 100% post-consumer recyclate from 2027. (Full document here)

[2] Greenpeace Africa’s platform can be accessed here.

[3] More information about the bans across the continent can be found here

[4] UN Environment’s Single-use Plastics: A Roadmap For Sustainability report can be accessed here.

Contact details
Chris Vlavianos, Greenpeace Africa Communications Officer, +2779 883 7036, [email protected]