Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
More waste recycling plants must be set up in towns and cities across Zimbabwe to beat plastic pollution by recycling this waste into usable products and materials with environmental, economic and social benefits to the nation, the President has said.
He made the remarks after leading the customary clean-up on the first Friday of the month yesterday.
Speaking after the clean-up in Ruwa and touring Mega Pak Zimbabwe in the town, President Mnangagwa called for more waste recycling plants in urban centres, which were grappling with huge quantities of uncollected waste.
“For me, my focus is that the environment, wherever it is, must be clean,” he said.
“We need to have an attitude to live in a clean environment. We are going green and we cannot go green when waste is everywhere.
“It will be more ideal to have plants of this nature in every urban centre to deal with waste and produce cheaper products.”
Mega Pak is a plastic recycling company which makes products for local and regional markets.
President Mnangagwa commended the firm for engaging in plastic recycling and waste management at a time when the country sought to reduce its carbon footprint as well as the heavy burden of plastic pollution on environment and human health.
“In our programme for cleaning our environment, what we are cleaning is waste,” he said. “Here is a company processing waste into new products. Everything, they process here; there is nothing that is wasted.
“Everything is made into some products which are critically important.”
The President said the company was also exporting its plastic products to neighbours Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, earning the country foreign currency.
Mega Pak was established in 1993 as a joint venture between Delta Corporation and Nampak SA, but is now operating independently. It produces a range of products that include crates, drums, tanks, bottles, bottle tops and other lines.
The company gave President Mnangagwa 100 bins, which he said will be distributed to hospitals and clinics in Harare and Mashonaland East Province.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) publicity manager, Ms Amkela Sidange, said since the launch of the national environment cleaning day in December 2018, where a major effort is made on the first Friday of each month to maintain the daily momentum, a lot of changes were taking place and they now want people to understand the recycling value chain.
“We are happy today that we have brought on board the country’s leadership to an institution that is into processing of the material coming straight from the environment. We are taking what people are calling waste. This is really to show that it is not waste until you waste it. What you think is waste is actually a resource.”
Mrs Sidange said it was important for Zimbabwe to adopt and adapt to best practices in waste management.
Plastic pollution is one of the greatest man-made threats to Zimbabwe and the planet today. It blights the environment and its taking a heavy toll on marine life in the country’s water bodies.
Zimbabwe has taken bold steps to ensure waste, along the plastic life-cycle, is being addressed.
The country has also made significant progress in the management of single-use plastic over the years by imposing a ban on bags made of thin plastic with a thickness of less than 30 micrometres, which cannot be reused.
It widened the ban to include expanded polystyrene (known as kaylite) and is now moving towards alternative packaging and promoting the 3Rs – reducing, reusing and recycling.
Early this year, the Government approved a €303,9 million joint venture agreement between Harare City Council and German investor, Geogenix BV, for a waste-to-energy station at the Pomona dump site.
The deal, to be operated by the investor for 30 years, is set to improve waste management in the capital city and generate 22MW. The United Nations Environment Programme says in 2020 that plastic production in Africa reached over 400 million tonnes.
African countries have, over the years, demonstrated their commitment to fight plastic pollution through the imposition of a ban on single use plastics.
At least 37 countries on the continent now have some type of legislation to deal with the problem.
Ruwa residents applauded President Mnangagwa for initiating the clean-up programme to ensure safe and clean environments, saying this will go a long way in reducing water borne diseases and environmental pollution.
Ms Maud Chimbira said: “We have a President who is leading by example and rallying the nation to carry out cleaning activities around the country but local authorities are seemingly letting the President and ratepayers down by not collecting refuse on time.
“Local authorities should know that cleaning and keeping the cities clean is one of their mandates but they are not doing that. They are channelling their efforts towards fleecing ratepayers of their hard-earned cash primarily for their personal use.”
Another resident who only identified herself as Mai Munyaradzi said she was pleased with the work done by President Mnangagwa ever since he became President.
“He is a man of his words. His idea of having waste recycling plants in urban centres is great. Once we have these plants everywhere, we will have a society free of trash, but a richer country because we can generate the much needed foreign currency and improve our economy and livelihoods,” she said.
Mr John Mandiro said there was need for more players in the business of waste recycling to reduce unemployment while creating a safe and clean environment.