Kaylite ban justifiable, but…

Kaylite ban justifiable, but…
The Environmental Management Agency on July 12 banned the use of kaylite saying the environmentally unfriendly material also causes cancer.

The Environmental Management Agency on July 12 banned the use of kaylite saying the environmentally unfriendly material also causes cancer.

AS far as the environment is concerned, the ban of kaylite is justifiable.
Kaylite is not biodegradable and can last hundreds of years in the environment.
If the kaylite industry players are not committed to sustainable use of kaylite including its safe disposal, then government is justified banning kaylite use.
In Zimbabwe, environmental commitment by many organisations and institutions is very low; they always make promises they never keep.
This is not just in the kaylite industry, but a general culture.
In the 21st century, environmental responsibility by business and institutions must not be an option but mandatory.
On how kaylite impacts on human health, we need to exercise caution though.
Health issues are very sensitive and must be handled responsibly.
It is true that styrene, the primary chemical used to produce polystyrene, has been investigated for its carcinogenic effects.
Firstly, styrene is already naturally occurring in some food stuffs including beef, cinnamon and cheese.
This means kaylite is not the only material that introduces styrene to humans. Secondly, research so far suggests kaylite contains only small residues of the styrene chemical.
In addition, extensive epidemiological and ecotoxicology studies conducted so far indicate that the amounts of styrene from kaylite are too small to warrant alarm.
This is not saying we must throw caution to the wind, but we must be factual and avoid causing unnecessary public alarm and panic.
Evidence suggests that the side-effects of eating food contained in kaylite packaging is most likely being exaggerated.
The kaylite industry players also have a point.
The general principle of sustainable development is about striking a balance between economic development, the environment and human health.
A sudden ban means manufacturers are bombed out of business and the losses are huge in terms of machinery, unused stock and creditors.
There are job losses also involved.
In addition, it also adds to loss of investor confidence.
These are the realities of the situation and the reason why in many parts of the world, phasing out of such substances is strategic and follows a specific programme with milestones agreed and measured by parties affected by the ban.
The kaylite ban is another reminder of the need to improve co-ordination and co-operation among players around the issues of the environment in general and waste management in particular.
All economic players need to treat environmental and waste management issues seriously and act to address issues.
They need to demonstrate, through action, their commitment to environmental issues, especially in cases where their business contributes to pollution and environmental degradation.
Zimbabwe has enough strategic and technical expertise and knowhow to handle most of its environmental and waste management challenges.
What appears to lack is the will.
Simon Bere is chairperson of the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa and contactable on email simonsbere@gmail.com or telephone +263774447438

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