By Nqobile Tshili
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has with immediate effect banned the use of kaylite saying the environmentally unfriendly material also causes cancer.
Kaylite is widely used by fast food outlets in the packaging of takeaways.
Businesses found using the banned material risk a fine of up to $5 000 or one year imprisonment.
EMA evoked Statutory Instrument 84 of 2002 which prohibits the manufacturing or importation of expanded polystyrene (kaylite) for commercial distribution within Zimbabwe.
In an interview yesterday, EMA’s spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata said banning of kaylite was meant to protect the public’s health.
“Besides the environmental impact, kaylite also puts the lives of people at risk. The kaylite gets heated during food packaging. If it’s heated there is the migration of some gas from the container to the food and this gas causes cancer.
“If you look around in Bulawayo or Harare there are some people who eat from kaylite in the morning, afternoon and evening.
“There also people who even heat up food while it’s in a kaylite thereby exposing themselves to cancer,” he said.
“We have activated statutory instrument 84 of 2002 which bans the use of kaylite and this is meant to protect the people.”
Mr Kangata said kaylite was environmentally unfriendly as it not recyclable.
He said the country was banning the kaylite in line with global trends saying companies should adopt more environmentally friendly ways of food packaging.
Mr Kangata said food outlets should adopt paper packaging and he also encouraged members of the public to take advantage of sit-in facilities.
“In the environmental circles we have what we call the emerging environmental issues. These are things which you cannot plan for but due to changes that are taking place globally, we have to adopt as we are part of the global village,” said Mr Kangata.
“We encourage people to sit in. Takeaway is actually a driver to littering. People should go to restaurants where they will sit. Even sadza can be served in bio-degradable paper packaging that is there.
“There is a layer to cover the pores of the paper so that even the soup will not seep through. We’ve seen that in other countries.”
Mr Kangata said food outlets that defy the ban risk being fined up to $5 000 or being jailed for a year.
“We have engaged these shops and they are fully aware of the new regulations governing food packaging. Major retailers are members of the retailers associations and these associations have been apprised of the new requirements. We have also engaged manufacturers,” said Mr Kangata. The Chronicle