By Lovemore Zigara
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) says it has started monitoring stocks of polystyrene material (kaylites) on manufacturers and distributors to ensure that the ban on the product is adhered to.
Government banned the use of kaylite last month but gave manufacturers of the product, a three-month reprieve to clear their stocks while advising members of the public to use them at their discretion.
EMA provincial manager for Midlands, Mr Milton Muusha, told Business Chronicle that the agency wants to ensure that there is no further production of the material and that the existing stocks would have run out by October when the ban of kaylite takes effect.
“What we have done now is to issue an order to every player who is using kaylite in the province and we are monitoring the compliance for the three months that we have given them. For manufacturers what we are doing is that we have taken stock of what they have and we expect that stock to be decreasing as we go towards the deadline,” he said.
“We are carrying out frequent inspection audits to find out if they are complying with the order in preparation for the eventual phase out of the kaylite material.”
Government banned the use of kaylite and related plastic packaging material last month citing health hazards and pollution.
Experts say exposure to chemicals emitted by heated kaylite causes headaches, weakness, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal and minor kidney effects.
It also decreases concentration abilities and may cause irritation of the mucous membrane and affect the eyes, nose and throat.
Studies have shown that increased styrene exposure leads to chromosomal damage, abnormal pulmonary function and cancer.
With emphasis on re-using and recycling of materials, polystyrene cannot be recycled, while its non-biodegradable nature means it is ingested by aquatic animals that humans later consume.
In a statement announcing the ban of kaylite EMA board chair Ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi said: “The Environmental Management Agency has with immediate effect activated 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”.
The ban follows a call by Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri to heavily punish councils, companies and individuals that pollute the environment. The Herald