#Zimbabwe bans use of expanded polystyrene for goods packaging, citing health and pollution concerns

Panic as environmental agency begins fining retailers over use of kaylite in Zimbabwe
A worker goes about her work at a local restaurant in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 12, 2017. Zimbabwe has banned the use of expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to as kaylite, as it moves to protect the health of consumers and stop massive pollution caused by wanton discarding. (Xinhua)

HARARE, July 15 (Xinhua) — The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) of Zimbabwe on Friday unleashed enforcement officers throughout the country to uphold a ban on kaylite as panic gripped retailers after at least one large retail chain was fined for having kaylite packaged goods on its shelves.

The agency effected the ban on Wednesday in line with Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012 which prohibits the manufacture or importation of kaylite (expanded polystyrene) for use or commercial distribution within the country, citing health and environmental reasons.

A manager with the retail chain who declined to be named said enforcement officers in the city of Masvingo found workers removing the kaylite packaged goods from the chillers and still fined the retailer, albeit at a lower scale because there were signs of compliance.

“They were going to fine us 5,000 U.S. dollars but since they found us removing the goods they settled for 200 dollars.

“We have instructed all our outlets to remove goods which are packaged in kaylite. We will also instruct our suppliers to come and uplift their products because we cannot risk being fined on their behalf,” he said.

A mini-survey by Xinhua revealed that the retailer had by 11 am Friday removed all kaylite packaged goods from the chillers.

However, another large retailer was still to comply and it was business as usual as outlets continued to serve food in kaylite packaging while their freezers and chillers were laden with such products.

Food outlet operator Kudakwashe Motsi said he would be switching over to the more expensive paper plates and shrink wraps but would have to balance the costs with a view to remaining viable.

Results of a research by the University of Zimbabwe which were published recently said kaylite contained cancer causing styrene which could migrate to food as it was being warmed or refrigerated.

On the environmental front, many outlets offering takeaway food have been using the kaylite in lieu of proper plates and cups but this was being disposed of indiscriminately and causing massive pollution.

A retail shop employee who also declined to be named said they approached EMA on Friday to make representations to be allowed to continue using kaylite until they came up with different packaging but were told that they had to stick to the law.

“There are many of us who have been affected differently and we presented our cases to be allowed to continue using kaylite until we came up with Plan B but they told us that there was nothing they could do except to uphold the law,” he said.

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