Environment Protection (Banning of Plastic Bags) Regulations 2020 and Environment Protection (Control of Single Use Plastic Products) Regulations 2020.
The volume of plastic wastes in Mauritius has increased considerably over the past years, reaching around 75,000 tonnes. This waste is predominantly composed of packaging (plastic bags, plastic bottles and food boxes/packaging). The major part of these wastes are landfilled and only 2000 to 3000 tonnes of plastic wastes being recycled yearly, either locally or through export.
The Regulations on plastic products aim at banning the volume of wastes being used in the country and drive the shift towards a more sustainable dimension. Moreover, the regulations also make providion to promote the development of ’green’ and ’sustainable’ alternatives that will boost local artisanal industries and encourage the setting up of innovative green enterprises
The Regulations have been formulated with the main objective of curbing the use, import and production of plastic products. This will directly reduce the volume of plastic wastes which are generated and directed to landfills. The promulgation of the regulations have been followed by enforcement exercises which ensure compliance with the provisions. Several “banned” plastic products which were found to be still in use have been seized.
Plastic products which are not properly disposed of and landfilled often end up in nature and represent an eyesore. They constitute an environmental hazard as they block drains and water courses leading to overflows and floods. The banning of the plastic products aims at curbing their use such that they are no longer used and disposed of in a haphazard manner. This will lead to a shift to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Moreover, plastic products also represent a major threat to the marine ecosystem. Plastic products which litter the land surfaces are washed down to the sea in water courses or during heavy rainfall. There, they give rise to marine litter, damage the marine ecosystem and may also represent a threat to marine animals. Thus, plastic products may seriously endanger marine life. The Regulations banning the use of these plastic products will also contribute to the protection and conservation of our seas and oceans.
The Regulations also make provision for the production of alternatives which can contribute significantly in replacing plastic products. These include items such as long-lasting carry bags, cutlery and bowls produced from natural products such as bamboo and palm leaves. This will lead to the emergence of green and innovative businesses, thus driving the shift to a green economy.