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Plastic Carrier Bags Regulations Under the Spotlight

October 21, 2020

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Public comment on the proposal to amend the Environment Conservation Act Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Regulations is under consideration.

The environment, forestry and fisheries department confirmed this during a briefing in parliament on single use plastics and extended producer responsibility.

The intention to amend the regulations was published in Gazette 43601 on 7 August 2020.

The draft amendments flow from the review of all policies affecting plastic bags in the country.

The draft amendments call for the prohibition of the manufacture, trade and distribution of domestically produced and imported plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags that do not meet outlined specifications for use within South Africa.

During the briefing, the department pointed out that “plastic litter has a high propensity to end up in the environment, particularly in waterways and the marine environment, where globally this litter is of huge environmental concern”.

The department also indicated that extended producer responsibility is an “environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s lifecycle”.

This results in producers taking meaningful actions via legislative measures towards post-consumer management of the products that are placed in the South African market.

Revised Gazettes on Plastic Bag Regulations, Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations and Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme on Paper, Packaging and other Single Use Products for final implementation will be published in the current financial year.

The department declared that increased access to delivery of waste services along with increased plastic waste recycling will contribute to reducing plastic litter.

Meanwhile, in another briefing on the implications of the Meat Safety Act of 2000 on animal welfare in relation to wildlife, the agriculture, land reform and rural development department indicated that the aim of the amendment to Schedule 1 of the Meat Safety Act is to “ensure that any animal slaughtered for human consumption is slaughtered in line with the applicable laws governing food safety and animal welfare”.

The department also highlighted that all activities dealing with animals must consider the welfare of the animals and comply with the Animals Protection Act of 1962.

According to the department, the inclusion of additional animals in the draft Schedule 1 is designed to ensure that any animal that is slaughtered for human consumption is slaughtered in a humane manner and the slaughter is conducted in a hygienic manner and that no meat that is unsafe for human consumption enters the commercial market.

The department stressed that the “listing of animals in the schedule does not indicate the animals that must/may be slaughtered, but ensures that if such an animal is to be slaughtered, it should be done in a prescribed manner”.