LOCAL manufacturers of expanded polystyrene (EPS), commonly known as kaylite, are stuck with over $1 million worth of stock which has been quarantined following compliance with government’s kaylite ban, it has been learnt.
Zimbabwe Polystyrene Packaging Council (ZPPC) chairperson, Melody Frank, last week told The Financial Gazette that kaylite makers had shut down their plants, but continued engaging government with the hope that they would be allowed to dispose of the stock. “Members have complied with the directive. At Planas, we have shut down the factory and sent workers home… We have over $1 million in stock which has been quarantined in-situ.
“However, we have approached the relevant offices with our appeal to be allowed to dispose held stock. We are not seeking legal recourse but we just wait for government’s guidance,” Frank said. In July, government began implementing Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012, which banned the use of kaylites in the food industry after Environment Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, announced the decision in 2015 and gave food outlets up to June 30, 2016 to switch to alternative packaging.
While implementation was delayed by a further 12 months, government gave kaylite manufacturers a three-month grace period from July to clear stocks. This olive branch was, however later revoked, forcing the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to confi scate kaylite stocks held by manufacturers and retailers. The ZPPC boss also Business Development Manager at Planas Investments, the country’s biggest kaylite manufacturer said Planas had sent over 65 workers home on the back of the ban. “The factory directly employed 50 workers who operated the machinery. They have since been sent home. Add another plus or minus 15 workers who were in sales and management.
It is important for you to note that these were direct employees. “We also have distributors and middlemen along the value chain along with our consumers who relied on the product. All these have lost their livelihoods,” Frank said. She pointed out that while ZPCC members were in the process of regrouping to come up with a substitute product, present alternatives remained costly. “It costs between three to four cents to make a kaylite pack while the recommended replacements of hard recyclable plastic cost between 25 to 50 cents. So it will not be an easy switch for us and our customers,” she said. Before the ban, Planas was producing an average of 45 000 kaylite bales per month, with each bale holding about 500 or 1 000 packs, translating to about 90 percent of Planas Holdings’ total revenues.
The balance came from the fi rm’s stationery business. EMA information and publicity manager, Steady Kangata, told The Financial Gazette that the regulatory organisation had confi scated over 58,5 million kaylites worth an estimated $2,8 million. “To date, we have issued over 264 environmental orders. In terms of the kaylites confi sticates in situ, the figure presently stands at 58 538 908. We will continue with the exercise for some time,” he said. When the ban was implemented, the regulator said the plastic food containers were exposing consumers to cancer and had clogged the country’s drainage as well as sewer systems. According to Kangata, the kaylite composition of 90 percent air and 10 percent plastic makes it endure disintegration for up to 500 years.