Zimbabwe has banned the use of expanded polystyrene, also known as kaylite, as it moves to protect public health and stop massive pollution caused by wanton discarding.
Polystyrene is a plastic used in a variety of situations, including construction and food packaging.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) spokesperson Steady Kangata, confirmed to Xinhua that the ban targeting products used to package takeaway and refrigerated foods was with immediate effect.
A notice issued by the board chairperson of EMA Zenzo Nsimbi said that the ban was effected in line with a 2012 statutory instrument that prohibited the manufacture or importation of kaylite for use or commercial distribution within the country.
“The ban has been effected after wide consultation in order to protect the citizens of Zimbabwe from the environmental and health impacts caused by expanded polystyrene,’’ he said.
He added that anybody who violated the ban would be guilty of an offense.
The move has taken many food outlet operators by surprise, with a supermarket worker saying it wondered how they would continue serving their customers with takeaway food.
“So are we going to ask them to bring their own plates and cups?’’ it said.
Many outlets offering takeaway food have been using the kaylite in lieu of proper plates and cups.
Consumers have, however, not been binning them after use, resulting in the clogging of storm drains and a higher prevalence of flooding in the city centre and littering of the country’s rivers.
Even the highways have become heavily littered as people threw the kaylite out of moving vehicles after finishing their meals.
Results of a research by the University of Zimbabwe that was published recently said kaylite contained cancer-causing styrene which could migrate to food as it was warmed or refrigerated