A group of Cape Town based Greenpeace Africa volunteers has started an ambitious campaign calling on South Africa’s top political parties to adopt a ban on single-use plastics in their election manifestos ahead of this year’s presidential election. 

The group is urging South Africa’s political elite to recognise that the country is lagging behind in the continental battle against throwaway plastic, with several African countries such as Kenya and Rwanda having already adopted bans on certain single-use plastic items.

Elaine Mills, creator of the online campaign on VUMA.EARTH, says it is surprising that South Africa is falling behind on the global shift away from plastic since it is arguably the most progressive nation in Africa in terms of legislation.

Reflecting the will of the people

Mills says the campaign is hoping to get 100 000 signatures to demonstrate that a ban on throwaway plastics reflects the will of the South African people.

To date, the Greenpeace Africa volunteer group has collected over 3 000 signatures and has rallied five other local environmental groups to join their cause. One of the political parties being targeted, the Democratic Alliance, has already reached out to them to begin engaging on the matter.

Political will

This comes after the Department of Environmental Affairs entered into discussions with Parliament’s Environmental Committee over a possible ban of single-use plastics noting that they would call for public input soon.

“It is great that the powers that be are starting to realise the harmful impact of throwaway plastic on the environment. This shows us that there is political will for such a ban to be implemented. This campaign serves to support that by dispelling any doubt that could delay the process,” Mills says.

Last year, Greenpeace Africa volunteers in Durban run a successful campaign calling for local food franchises to phase out single-use plastic. Several of its targets, including Ocean Basket and Kauai, have since taken steps to move away from plastic packaging.