Letters to the editor: April 26 to May 2

Pay deposits for plastic

Some years ago we were told that the introduction of thicker plastic bags would help to solve the problem of plastic waste. Most people realised at the time that this would not work, and the plan has failed more dismally than even the most pessimistic of us predicted. Only the manufacturers of the thicker plastic bags and the shop owners, who overcharge for them, have benefited.

Yet one solution to the problem plastic poses to the environment can also play a role in redistributing income. Every single disposable plastic item should incur a deposit. This would require only a minor adjustment by manufacturers. Depots can be set up at shopping centres to receive returned items in exchange for shopping vouchers.

The deposits received by shop owners can be collected by the municipal council in much the same way as value-added tax is collected by the revenue service, and claimed back by submitting the used shopping vouchers.

At the depots, specially trained people can immediately separate out the items according to kind, as required by recycling firms. People who at present move around suburbs sorting through litter bins could perhaps be the first ones eligible for such employment — they already have the requisite knowledge of what plastic items can be collected together.

Money paid by the recycling companies for sorted refuse would contribute to the salaries and other costs associated with maintaining the depots. It would cost local councils much less to subsidise this system than it does for them to dispose of plastic litter as they do at present.


Another role councils could play would be to transport collected items from these depots to recycling firms, although most such firms would probably be willing to collect the waste themselves. The council would then also receive payments from recycling firms, and use them to pay salaries and other costs.

In the complex where I live, the body corporate has bought expensive separate containers from a recycling company. The scheme does not work, because the company concerned expects us to know how to distinguish between the different kinds of plastics, not all of which are conveniently labelled. The same applies to glass and paper. Workers at the depots could quickly be trained to make those distinctions.

With very few of us currently sorting our garbage, it’s obvious that attempting to educate the public will be a waste of resources. It makes more sense to turn the problem into an opportunity that will help alleviate poverty, clean our environment and save the energy and resources that recycling enables.

Such deposits would immediately increase the price of goods in our shops, but citizens could get the extra money back by simply returning the plastic items to their nearest depots.

If any are too rich or lazy to do so, someone else will do it for them, and benefit financially from doing so.

It would be simpler, of course, for our supermarkets to set up their own internal collection depots.

It may look like a very complicated system, but with the requisite computer programming, it could be administered quite simply. — John Brodrick, Bedfordview


Anti-Bolsonaro article has errors

Regrettably, I have to point out that Benjamin Fogel’s article Bolsonaro’s three-month rule a disaster contains incorrect facts. Fogel’s views reflect the Brazilian opposition’s narrative, which the author openly supports.

First, it is false to say that Brazil has never come to terms with its military government. Not only did the country adopt an amnesty law that created conditions to bring together different political groups and actors in the elaboration of a democratic Constitution in 1988, but a national truth commission was also established in 2011, which was tasked to investigate what happened in the country in the period.

Contrary to what Fogel suggests, President Jair Bolsonaro is not personally involved in any corruption scandals. There’s no accusation of any illegal activity and he has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing. Furthermore, Fogel’s reports of accusations against Bolsonaro’s son are hasty, because such claims have not been proven or judged by a court.

Another mistaken view put forward by Fogel is his accusation that the anti-crime Bill legalises police murder and that it is being put together by Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro without consultation. Actually, the proposal has been submitted to Congress for consideration, following the regular, democratic law-making process. It does not legalise any crime by any actors either, but rather provides for more effective means to prevent and combat murders in light of Brazil’s crime rate.

The Brazilian government, like any democracy, is under public scrutiny after its first 100 days in office. The government has fulfilled all 35 goals it set for its first trimester, thereby expressing Bolsonaro’s commitment to the proposals presented to the Brazilian people during the campaign, and as a result of which he was democratically elected. — Nedilson Jorge, ambassador of Brazil in South Africa

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Related stories

We developed a simple process to recycle urine. Here’s how it’s done

Most of the wastewater produced worldwide receives no treatment and the nutrients in wastewater go to waste. Here's how households can draw these nutrients from urine

The world’s warriors are under attack, but we must keep on fighting

The murder of Fikile Ntshangase in KwaZulu-Natal was not an isolated incident. Around the globe, from Nigeria to Brazil, environmental activists are similarly being silenced, and it is our duty to continue this struggle

Richard Calland: South Africa needs a Roosevelt style of leadership

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to hold ‘fireside chats’ and have more power and institutional muscle around him, writes Richard Calland

Businesses should use alternative energy sources, industry bodies advise

Business associations are urging companies to continue seeking alternative energy sources in light of Eskom’s court judgement which would allow the utility to bump up electricity prices up to 15% from next year April 2021.

The new ‘invisible enemy’

Anti-racism and political contagion from Save Darfur to Black Lives Matter

Eusebius McKaiser: A witness to Covid-19 stigma

Let us please not repeat the devastating Aids story where people died of shame rather than admit being infected by the virus
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

DRC: Tshisekedi and Kabila fall out

The country’s governing coalition is under strain, which could lead to even more acrimony ahead

Editorial: Crocodile tears from the coalface

Pumping limited resources into a project that is predominantly meant to extend dirty coal energy in South Africa is not what local communities and the climate needs.

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

Nehawu leaders are ‘betraying us’

The accusation by a branch of the union comes after it withdrew from a parliamentary process
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…