Government eyes introduction of levy on plastic bags
The Environmental Commissioner of Namibia, Teofilius Nghitila, said government will soon introduce a levy on plastic bags in an effort to curb pollution in the country.
Nghitila confirmed to the Economist that there are currently discussions underway with the Ministry of Finance and that the tax on plastic bags will be introduced soon after.
This means that soon Namibians will pay a small additional amount when they make use of plastic carrier bags while shopping.
Nghitila prompted the issue in 2015 and gave a concrete timeline recently at the at the ninth After-Work-Talk of the Environmental Economics Network of Namibia, under the topic ‘The introduction of a plastic bag levy – an option for Namibia?’
The panellists, who included environment specialists, retail businessmen and financial experts in government, were all in favour of the introduction of the levy. Key issues around plastic bags include the banning of all ‘problem’ plastics entering Namibia that contain Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3), assessing of plastics that are produced locally, the regulation thereof and the reinvestment of the levy revenue into environmental activities.
Nghitila added that levies on plastics would not be the only solution in curbing pollution. It, however, can be used to change consumer behaviour. “If we can change the mind set of consumers, they could start using alternatives,” he said.
The Managing Director of Plastic Packaging, JacoVenter, said his company would have limited objections to a levy on plastic carriers bags, adding they would support the idea that revenue from levies should directly support environmental activities.
Venter noted that the plastic carrier bag should not be singled out as the only cause of plastic pollution. He referred to plastic bottles in which mineral water is sold, of which 60% is being imported from South Africa. He asked what do consumers do with the plastic their meat, fish, vegetables, fruit or frozen productions are packaged in.
Namibia has an annual usage of around 150 to 200 carrier bags per person per year, compared to 80 bags per person per year in Sweden and France.
Furthermore, Erwin Stegmann, Group Manager for Sustainability and Utilities Support with Ohlthaver and List Group said the purpose of retailers selling plastic carrier bags should not be to generate profits for them but to contribute to the environment.
“The polluter-pay-principle should prevail according to which the consumer pays for the bags and of which the levy goes back to the environment,” he stressed.
caption: The Environmental Commissioner of Namibia, Teofilius Nghitila