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MUST Bans Use Of Thin Plastics On Campus

By Morton Sibale, MANA

In a bid to conserve environment, Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) has announced the ban of the use of plastics of 60 micrometers and below within the campus premises with immediate effect.

In a statement released by the university and signed by the Vice Chancellor Professor Address Malata, the university says the decision is an attempt by the university to comply with the regulation effected by the Supreme Court of Appeal in July, 2019.

The Supreme Court of Appeal order effectively banned the manufacturing, importation, trading, commercial distribution and use of plastics with a wall thickness of less than 60 micrometers unless exempted.

“The university, therefore, advises all staff and students that (these kids of) plastics are no longer allowed on MUST campus with immediate effect.

“Management will be engaging all the suppliers to the tuck-shop and the cafeteria to ensure that we are complying with this regulation.

“If you are bringing anything to the campus in a plastic bag, make sure it is the allowed type of plastic,” reads part of the statement.

Confirming the development, Tiwonge Gawa, who chairs the ‘Plastic-Free MUST’ Task-force, said as a university, they feel they have a role to play in protecting the environment.

Gawa said as an academic institution, they have contributed to the available information on why thin plastics are harmful.

“The information on why thin plastics are harmful has emanated from the academia and as an institution of higher education, we have to set the standards by taking leading roles to conserve environment from the effects of such harmful materials,” Gawa said.

She further said the university has already lined up a number of plans and efforts to ensure the ban is being effected accordingly. The activities include sensitisation campaigns and monitoring the teaching and learning of modules on waste management among others.

“The task-force was set up in July last year and already has a work plan on effecting this ban.

“In addition, we have also lined up sensitisation campaigns to all members of the community to ensure they are aware of the harmful effects of thin plastics so that enforcement of the ban should not be problematic,” Gawa said.

Commenting on the development, President of the Association of Environmental Journalists in Malawi, Mathews Malata said the move is a great step forward in the efforts to achieve a clean society.

‘We commend the move as it demonstrates that institutions of higher learning can lead by example in conserving the environment.

“This move has a multiplier effect as the students will adopt the culture even when they return to their homes and when they graduate from the university,” Malata said.

Malata further said the ban also serves as an encouragement to the government and all other stakeholders in the private and public sectors to emulate the example and walk the talk on the ban that was effected by the court last year.

Malawi Government imposed a ban on thin plastics in 2015 following concerns from environmentalists.

However, the ban was overturned by the high court after some plastic manufacturers obtained an injunction, saying it was an ‘infringement on business rights’.

However, on July 31 last year, the country’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the manufacturers, effectively reinstating the 2015 ban.

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