Cape Town – To mark World Environment Day on Tuesday, South Africans were urged to eradicate plastic pollution, beginning with small, individual actions such as avoiding single-use plastic products.
“Plastic pollution is particularly insidious because once plastics enter into the environment, they do not biodegrade, but simply break down into smaller pieces over time,” said Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa.
“This has a detrimental effect on our environment, more so once this pollution enters our oceans and endangers marine life and fragile marine ecosystems,” added Minister Molewa.
This year’s WED theme was “Beating Plastic Pollution”. It is intended to urge governments, industries, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic products.
Minister Molewa has confirmed that South Africa was committed to minimising plastic pollution and that the DEA was looking at introducing several measures to curb plastic pollution. This would include phasing out the use of micro-beads in the production of cosmetics.
To further mark World Environment Day, Minister Molewa has announced the upcoming launch of the #THUMAMINA/green/good/deeds; for a clean and beautiful South Africa campaign, in response to the Presidential THUMA-MINA Initiative.
The campaign aims to change attitudes and behaviour towards waste and environment in general and mobilise every citizen to take responsibility for keeping their communities clean.
“Our Constitution undertakes all South Africans the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. Let us join hands in the drive to reduce not just plastic pollution but all forms of pollution,” said Minister Molewa.
South Africa has also adopted the entire month of June to heighten awareness of environmental issues through various pertinent activities. It is during the month of June that South Africa will also celebrate the World Oceans Day (WOD) and the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD).
Furthermore, the department manages a number of programmes aimed at waste minimisation through the 4Rs; recovery, reduce, reuse, and recycling.