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Food vendors defy govt kaylite ban

The larger retail shops and supermarkets are complying with the ban

18/07/2017 00:00:00
by Chris Mahove
Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri

INFORMAL food vendors and small restaurants in the capital continue to use Expanded Polystyrene or kaylites for food packaging in spite of a government ban announced last week.

A snap survey conducted by this publication in down-town Harare revealed that while large retail shops such as OK Zimbabwe, TM and Food World had come up with replacements, the it was business as usual for informal food vendors and small takeaways, which continued to use the banned kaylites.

“I could not think of any immediate replacement and there was no way I could have stopped preparing food because that is my only source of livelihood.

“Besides, I had bought the kaylites in bulk and I can’t just throw them away,” said one woman who sells sadza in downtown Harare.

She said she did not have any sit-in facilities and only sold take-aways, adding that she would continue to serve her food in kaylites for some time as she had lots of the material in stock.

The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was also convinced that any replacement would be more expensive than the kaylites which she said were very affordable.

Another food vendor, who also chose not to be identified, said the ban was unfair for them as it would increase costs and eat into their profits.

“This will definitely increase our costs at a time money is so hard to come by. We cannot afford to increase our food prices from the current dollar per plate that we charge because we know there is no money out there.”

He said he would continue to use the kaylites as he did not have any alternative.

“We don’t have any sitting space here and we have no plates, so we all sell to people who go and eat elsewhere.

“There is no way that I can push myself out of business; there are no jobs and we are trying to be enterprising to fend for our families and these guys just want to cut off our source of livelihoods,” he said.

The food vendor said there was no difference even if they did not heed the ban as they were always involved in running battles with council anyway.

TM Supermarkets and Food World were using plastic containers which were then wrapped with plastic wrappers while OK Zimbabwe opted for paper plates, which were also wrapped with plastic wrappers.


The use of kaylites was banned through Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012 with Environment Minister, Oppah Muchinguri in 2015 giving food outlets up to June 30, 2016 to find alternative packaging.

The ban, however, had not been implemented until last Wednesday when the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) announced the prohibition was being enforced forthwith.

“Please note that SI 84 of 2012 on plastic packaging and bottles has come into effect; henceforth kaylite has been banned,” EMA Spokesperson, Batsirai Sibanda said last Wednesday.

EMA Head of Information and Publicity, Steady Kangata, said that kaylites had been the major source of drain clogging in Harare as the plastics closed storm drains and caused flash floods.

He said burning of the kaylites resulted in the emission of cancer causing gases while heating food in the kaylites caused the release of styrene gas, which had serious health implications.

Illegal and informal food outlets have mushroomed in the central business districts of Harare, providing alternative and affordable food.

Most of the outlets sell sadza and beef, maguru, matumbu and chicken for as little as one dollar per plate, making them very popular among the people working in the city.

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