Recycle, reduce and reuse

09 February 2018 | Columns

Otis Finck



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Recycling has the capacity to play a very meaningful role in our society, the country and for the world as a whole. It can become a means of creating much needed jobs for Namibians, generating an income and keeping our environment tidy.

We are all aware of the damaging impact plastic has on our environment and the ocean in particular.

I therefore wholeheartedly welcome the initiative by Swakopmund town council who started working on a by-law that would result in the charging of a levy for the use of plastic bags at local shops.

Once it has been gazetted, all shops, supermarkets, vendors and restaurants that make use of plastic bags will be affected. Although the value of the levy has not been determined yet, customers will be charged extra if a plastic bag is provided to them at the cash register for the purpose of carrying food or merchandise out of an establishment.

Funds generated through the levy will be used to organise clean-up campaigns, on education and recycling.

This initiative should be extended throughout Namibia.

Other countries such as Switzerland are looking to employ a more drastic approach towards curbing plastic pollution in particular. Switzerland’s parliament approved a motion banning single-use plastic shopping bags. Both houses of the Swiss parliament last year voted to forbid the distribution of plastic bags and the next step is for government to implement the ban.

I am aware that thousands of people put bread on their tables and ensure the education of their children by doing recycling in neighbouring South Africa. It is a billion dollar industry that sustains families unlike here in Namibia where scrap metal is the main focus and the less fortunate converge at dumpsites in search of a meal.

Recyclable materials are classified in different categories and recyclers earn fees depending on the various types of recyclable material they collect. Copper, aluminium and white office paper are sought after commodities and pays the best. One can also earn substantial amounts from collecting huge loads of cardboard boxes and plastics.

Due recognition should however be given to those who opt to take on the all important and very demanding responsibility of engaging fulltime in the act of collecting recyclable material.

The industry should also be properly regulated. Government should set up its own recycle yards where collected material are purchased, sorted, packed and stacked for transportation before it is resold for use to other countries. This could also result in permanent employment for members of communities.