By Sylvester Kumwenda
Lilongwe, Mana: Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change has called for strengthening efforts in managing plastic waste, which remains a significant problem in the country.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry, Yanira Mtupanyama made the call Wednesday when she commissioned Farmers Organization Limited (FOL) Empty Container Management (ECM) facility at Kanengo in Lilongwe
She said it was encouraging to see FOL take the proactive step as the country moves towards Malawi 2063 whereby environment safety is one of the enablers.
“Plastic waste is a challenge in Malawi and worldwide. This is an exciting development because environment is one of the enablers for the Malawi 2063.
“As a country we need clean farms, beautiful environments and overall to go green. FOL has demonstrated that we can go on and use pesticides but also be able to manage whatever containers are there,” Mtupanyama added.
She said this is not only speaks to agricultural production, but on how the country could sustainably produce agricultural products without negatively affecting humans and the environment, which has always been a challenge.
“Some farmers’ households would use the empty containers as storage facilities without knowing they are exposing themselves to hazardous chemicals.
“For those that were knowledgeable, it meant compilation of a lot of waste and not knowing how to dispose of those. But now these can be processes into clean pellets that can be used in processing pipes and other things. This is what we call sustainable innovations,” Mtupanyama said.
Managing Director of FOL, Henry Burger said as a responsible investor, they felt it was important for them to clean their footprints as far as empty pesticide containers are concerned.
“It is becoming very important for compliance on the part of exports. One of the requirements for exports is what are you doing with your empty containers.
“So as FOL decided we take up the responsibility to clear out ourselves and also give an opportunity for the customer to be compliant in order to export,” he said.
The facility according to him cost over US$ 150,000 and he hinted that they would like to replicate the development in other areas.
Burger ruled out the possibility that the facility would become a white elephant.
“The stockpile of empty pesticide containers in the country is huge, and with proper sensitization on what products to buy, products which come in proper packaging, and incentives, farmers would realize the importance of proper disposal of the items,” he said.
Registrar for Pesticide Control Board, Dr Misheck Soko said according to law, an importer of pesticides takes responsibility of plastic pesticides containers throughout their life cycles, including disposal and this was facing challenges due to lack of facilities.
“This facility becomes the second one in the country and a much improved one for that matter. We expect it will improve and strengthen pesticide system controls in the country,” he said.
It is expected to be the end point of empty pesticide containers farmers’ use in their agricultural activities, where these will be cleaned, recycled and ready for other industrial use, except in consumable related goods.