Fred Tomalin – Lilongwe Wildlife Trust
In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of banning the production of thin plastics in Malawi.
The ban, which was originally instated in 2015 was being appealed by the plastics industry, in part, on the grounds that they were not properly consulted on the implications of the ban and the harm it would do to their businesses. However, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, agreeing with the Government’s position that plastics manufacturers had been given sufficient warning and time to prepare for the halt on thin plastics production.
The court’s decision makes the production of thin plastics under 60 microns in thickness illegal immediately. Manufacturers which violate the ban can face fines, closure of factories, and seizure of prohibited products.
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, along with its partners UNDP Malawi, and the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus have been urging the Supreme Court to reinstate the ban, arguing that thin plastics cause irreparable damage to people, wildlife, and the environment.
75,000 tonnes of plastic is currently produced in Malawi each year, of which 80% is single-use plastic that cannot be recycled.
This move means Malawi now joins a community of 62 other countries around the world that have taken action on plastic pollution by banning the production or use of single use plastic goods.
Commenting on the ruling, Jonny Vaughan, CEO of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, said, “Today’s judgement is a fantastic victory for everyone who wants to see a cleaner, healthier, and prosperous Malawi. Public, political, and scientific opinion has long been in consensus on the issue of thin plastics, and I am delighted that Malawi now joins a progressive international community standing up for their natural heritage.”
The Resident Representative for UNDP Malawi, Mr. Shigeki Komatsubara also applauded this landmark ruling as a milestone for the country’s fight in addressing plastic pollution.
He said “Plastic pollution is threatening our ecosystems, biodiversity, and our health, at a pace and scale never seen before. We cannot ignore the environmental damage that plastic has on the environment and on our social and economic development. We welcome this development and look forward to its quick implementation in Malawi, which will set the example for Africa and the rest of the world.”