The Nkhata Bay District Council has announced measures banning the selling and use of single use plastics with immediate effect.
The council is the first to announce strict enforcement measures almost seven months after the ban was sustained by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Blantyre.
The District Commissioner’s office has since produced messages urging residents to immediately stop using single use plastics and resort to using baskets, paper bags and cartons as alternatives.
Apart from highlighting the dangers of single use plastics, the communication also warns all traders against continued selling of thin plastics or risk their stocks being confiscated and face prosecution according to law.
In separate interviews, both the District Commissioner Rodney Simwaka and Environmental District Officer Never Mlungu confirmed the development.
Simwaka said the plastic problem is getting out of control in the lakeshore district hence the need to deploy tough measures to protect both the aquatic life and animals.
“The ban is important to protect the environment. Thin plastics are known to be non-biodegradable and a threat to animal life. The production of waste including thin plastics is high at Nkhata bay boma because of the high volume of business activities,” said Simwaka.
Corroborating Simwaka, Mulungu said Lake Malawi and rivers around major markets in the districts are already polluted with thin plastics.
She further said the plastics have also heavily affected the local drainage system mostly resulting in blockages.
According to Mulungu, the council spends over half a million kwacha annually to clean up the drainage system.
Since last week, the council has stepped up awareness activities targeting the district council officials, market committees, schools, distributors, hospitals and residents with major enforcement exercises slated for May.
Recently the Environmental Affairs Department closed a Chinese company Qingdao Plastic Limited for defying the ban.
In a follow-up interview Peter Magombo, Principal Environmental Officer in the Department of Environmental Affairs said they have intensified inspection exercises and assured the nation that the crackdown down continues.
He said they will also tighten measures in all border posts to ensure only the recommended plastics find their way into the country.
He added that they are in the process of procuring micrometers to enable them check the thickness of the bags.
However, Magombo said while they are waiting for the required apparatus, they can still disallow entry of awaiting the thin plastic bags from elsewhere.
“It is a process. As we continue enforcing the ban, they will eventually disappear from the market,” he said.
Malawi is among countries that have taken bold steps in Africa to end the plastic menace.
The ban was effected in 2015 but plastic manufactures dragged the government to court protesting the ban until last year in July when the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered a verdict in favour of the government.