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A Grassroots Campaign Pressurises Authorities into Instituting a Plastic Ban in Malawi

For more than five years, Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, a 30-year-old Malawian environmental activist, has waged a David v Goliath battle against some of the country’s largest plastic manufacturers to bring an end to single-use plastics. After a protracted legal battle with plastic manufacturers, the Malawi Supreme Court upheld a national ban on the production, importation, distribution, and use of thin plastics in July 2019. Majiga-Kamoto’s fierce advocacy led to the shutting down of three plastic firms in 2020 by the Malawian government and as a result of her grassroots campaign, she has been awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa. She is one of six global winners of the prestigious award, which honors grassroots environmental activists. An estimated 75,000 tons of plastic are produced in Malawi each year, a recent study commissioned by the government found, and at least 80% of those plastics are discarded after use, according to the study. Malawi’s plastic waste will require more than 100 years to decompose, but sustained manufacturing of throwaway plastics may lengthen this projection. The findings of the government study also found that the East African nation produces more plastic waste per capita than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa — and this has greatly overwhelmed its waste disposal systems.