Paidamoyo Chipunza, Harare Bureau
Supermarkets and restaurants are in a quandary after the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), revoked a three-month reprieve earlier given to expanded polystyrene ( kaylites) users following their failure to stick to agreed conditions.
The latest development has seen EMA confiscating all kaylites from users with immediate effect.
Some restaurants that had not yet switched to alternatives were yesterday overwhelmed by the number of sit in clients with some customers resorting to using lunch boxes, paper plates and plastic bags to take away their lunch meals.
These, some consumers said, compromised on hygiene and service standards.
In an interview, EMA education and publicity officer Mr Steady Kangata, confirmed the development saying users were allowed to continue using kaylites for a period of three months from the day of the ban provided they ensured the kaylites would not be a menace to the environment during that period.
“They were supposed to come up with a plan aimed at finding ways of picking up kaylites through community based organisations so that the kaylites would not be a menace to the environment. So, we have been monitoring compliance since this agreement was reached, but they have failed to ensure a kaylite free environment hence the move by EMA to implement the ban,” said Mr Kangata.
“Teams are busy monitoring all supermarkets, restaurants and fast foods outlets and should we find any kaylites, we are confiscating in situ. This means we are not taking the confiscated kaylites with us, but we count them together with the users and leave them but we expect to see them in the same numbers on our next monitoring visit. If we find them short, it means they have been used meaning the user in question is liable to a prescribed fine,” said Mr Kangata.
He, however, said most restaurants, supermarkets and fast foods have since switched to alternative packaging.
Government, through EMA in July activated Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012, Environmental Management (Plastic Packaging and Plastic bottles) (Amendment) Regulations, which banned the manufacture, importation and commercial distribution of polystyrene for use in Zimbabwe.
Apart from being an environmental menace, EMA argued that the kaylites also had effects on health, some which lead to cancers.
But after presentations from kaylite users, EMA had given them a three months reprieve, which started on July 17, 2017 to wind up their operations on the condition that they ensure that the environment is kept clean of kaylites.