The recent, devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal have been ascribed to climate change, a problem which South Africans have to date not taken seriously enough. Aside from the contributions of government and the private sector, each South African has a personal responsibility towards environmental preservation.

Littering and garbage dumping has unfortunately become an ugly pandemic – quite literally. Despite the plastic bag legislation, and taxes on them, people and businesses are irresponsible with plastic bags. They festoon our living spaces, where cattle graze upon them and some make their way into the sea.

It was recently reported that a company, which supplies bags to Pick n Pay and other retailers, had withheld millions in “plastic bag tax’’ paid over by consumers at shopping tills around the country. A practice which is apparently quite prevalent.

I just returned from a study tour with colleagues from other parties to Kenya where I was happy to learn that their solutions to the scourge of plastic products are much more proactive e.g., they have long banned plastic bags and developed replacements for them, and one does not see them littering the streets of Nairobi. Plastic water bottles are prohibited from their national parks.

South Africans need to consider the adverse effects of plastic bags and we need to debate this matter to decide whether having this “convenience” is worth the risk to our environment, our livestock and living conditions.

Issued by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement