A fee related to plastics sustainability is at the middle of a growing story in South Africa, one that has Plastics SA, the country's plastics industry trade group, distancing itself from a bag maker.
The Sunday Times, South Africa's largest newspaper, ran a story March 27 about a bag maker based in Durban that has been siphoning money from a fee placed on bags that is supposed to support the creation of recycling programs.
The company, which has not been named, has taken nearly 10 million rand (about $670,000) per month that should have gone to the levy, according to local reports.
Plastics SA Executive Director Anton Hanekom said in an email that the group "condemned any kind of criminal behavior in the strongest possible terms."
"It is unfortunate that the article potentially caused reputational damage and unfairly brought the rest of the compliant and law-abiding plastic bag manufacturers into disrepute. It should be made clear that the scam was limited to one supplier who flaunted the rules," Hanekom said.
South Africa has had a levy on bags since 2004 and recently increased the fee. The country also is requiring bags to be produced with recycled content.
"We cannot allow an entire industry to be tarnished by the unscrupulous behavior of a single manufacturer who has no respect for the law," Hanekom said. "[Compliant producers] will give our full cooperation to the authorities to expose and persecute any company found guilty of criminal activities."