Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


Plastic levy increase not a solution as government urged to ‘ban plastics’

Greenpeace Africa says the levy increase was not the right way to go because it still benefitted the plastic industry.


Greenpeace Africa has urged government to ban plastic bags following Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s announcement the plastic bag levy would increase from 25c to 28c per bag from 1 April.

Greenpeace said the increase is not a solution to addressing the growing climate crisis.

According to its climate and energy campaigner, Nhlanhla Sibisi, the organisation did not believe the levy increase was the right way to go because it still benefitted the plastic industry.

“We’ve seen that the levy has been increased for a number of years now and while the intention is to discourage people from buying plastic bags, the approach has proven not to work,” he said.

“Because as long as you keep the plastic bag, then the plastic industry continues to exist.”

The minister said the government wanted to reduce single-use plastics and an upstream plastic tax and a tax on single-use plastics would be investigated; an environmental tax on certain types of plastic carrier and flat bags is earmarked to establish recycling facilities.

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However, Sibisi said recycling facilities that existed and were public knowledge were mostly privately owned and not monitored or controlled by government.

“We need a global, legally binding treaty that will consider the entire life cycle of plastic and governments must rein in on these industries with stricter regulations and the removal of all fossil fuels subsidies,” he added.

“Taking action against plastic pollution at its origin will help to address the growing climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy welcomed the minister’s decision on a carbon tax being implemented as a mechanism to ensure that South Africa lowers its greenhouse emissions.

The department said this was consistent with the Low Emissions Development Strategy South Africa deposited to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2020.

The minister said the carbon tax, along with industry-targeted carbon budgets and sectoral emission targets, were part and parcel of the mix of mitigation measures aimed at reducing SA’s greenhouse gas emissions profile.

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“At the time of releasing the [nationally determined contribution] we said these targets can be achieved with a well-structured plan by major emitters, as well as access to investment and financing,” Creecy said.

“We have no doubt that the trajectory for carbon tax increases will act as a powerful incentive for the development of the appropriate plans to a lower emissions trajectory.”

Godongwana said government proposed to increase the vehicle emissions tax rate on passenger cars from R120 to R132/gCO2/km and increase the tax on doublecabs from R160 to R176 per gCO2/ km from 1 April, when the incandescent light bulb levy will be increased from R10 to R15 per light bulb.

reitumetsem@citizen.co.za