The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is working towards a regulation to put a deposit on plastic bottles, commonly known as PET. It is a measure that could go a long way to reduce litter across the country.
The deposit will work in the same way that it does for local glass bottles such as beer or fizzy drinks whereby a small fee is added to the price of purchase, redeemable upon return of the empty container.
EMA’s Education and Publicity manager, Steady Kangata, says the regulation is still at the crafting stage but expressed hope that if the bottles have a value to them users will be less inclined to throw them away as rubbish since bottles retrieved from the environment are more costly to recycle. “A large number of these bottles are so badly soiled that recycling them becomes difficult. A deposit will lessen the number of bottles being discharged into the environment in the first place,” said Kangata.
Kangata said that once operational, the statute will play a major role in the ‘Reduce, Re-use and Recycle,’ environmental goals held in esteem by his agency. He also urged manufacturers of packaging materials to brand their products so that it becomes easy for consumers to follow their life cycle and learn how to dispose of them properly.
The move by EMA is in line with a 2011 ban on plastic bags less than 30 micrometres thick, which break easily, do not easily decompose, and cannot be recycled. Retailers were compelled to sell thicker plastic bags at 10 cents each. This allowed and encouraged consumers to keep and re-use their shopping bags at each supermarket visit.
PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate. It is inexpensive, lightweight, shatter-resistant, and recyclable, making it one of the most widely used forms of packaging for bottled soft drinks, water, and peanut butter to name a few. PET bottles are marked with a broken triangle containing the number 1 at the bottom of the container.
Image: PET plastic bottles commonly used to bottle water
Image credit: Carron Tambala