Coast KZN

14 May 2021

Environment minister addresses plastic pollution in budget speech

(Berea Mail) Picture: Danica Hansen. Volunteers collect plastic pollution near Beachwood Mangroves

Protecting natural resources while growing a post-Covid-19 economy is a key concern for government. This is according to Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy, who delivered the department’s budget speech for 2021/22 to the National Assembly on Friday, 14 May.

Plastic pollution was among the the environmental concerns raised by Creecy. The minister emphasised that a healthy environment must be one free from waste pollution. Therefore, implementation of the National Waste Management Strategy 2020 is a top priority.

“First and foremost, we must change citizen behaviour and encourage everyone to dispose of waste in a responsible manner. We must stop dumping household waste and fast food packaging in the environment. We must refuse single use plastics when buying our favourite take away,” said Creecy.

According to Creecy, the new requirements for plastic carrier bags were published in April 2021, requiring all bags to contain 50 per cent recycled content from 2023. This would increase to 100 per cent by 2027. Marine litter remains a national concern, added Creecy.

“As part of the Presidency’s Employment Stimulus Initiative, the Department has obtained approval to expand the Source-to-Sea Programme into 16 coastal districts with the target of creating a minimum of 1 600 work opportunities. To ensure all municipalities increase the number of households that have regular access to weekly refuse removal National Treasury has agreed that cash strapped municipalities can now use a portion of the MIG funding to address shortages in the waste management fleet and landfill operation equipment,” said the minister.

Creecy also addressed climate change, saying the newly-established Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission  will advise government on the transition to a low-carbon economy.

In conservation,  Creecy said, reviewed policies, legislation and practices will be implemented to regulate the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros while 12  sectors are due for re-allocation of fishing rights this year.

Operation Phakisa – Initiative 5, a programme tackling environmental crimes, will be scaled up this year.