The world perspective on mercury pollution-Minamata Convention

Mercury and mercury compounds have long been known to be toxic to humans, other organisms and the environment. Considering that mercury bio accumulates in the environment, its adverse impacts on the environment were evident in countries like Japan causing the Minamata disease as well as the Niigata Minamata disease.

The negative impacts of mercury gave rise to the promulgation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury of October 2013. The convention is an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. The convention was a result of international action aimed at managing mercury in an efficient, effective and coherent manner, while member states work towards its total elimination.



Waste management has been an issue of concern in Zimbabwe for the past decade, particularly in the urban areas, growth points and rural service centres. The food industry has contributed to this environmental challenge through the use of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), popularly known as kaylite  and Styrofoam which they use as packaging material in restaurants and fast food outlets. Kaylite has detrimental effects on the environment and human health. Internationally, countries such as New York, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Bostonhave banned the use of EPS while others such as South Africa mainly use paper packaging. In Zimbabwe, the use of EPS is prohibited by Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012 as read with Section 140 of the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20:27). However, a grace period has been given to all users of polystyrene to come up with a solution by 1 June 2016 on how their product can be managed.


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About EMA

The Environmental Management Agency is a statutory body responsible for ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and protection of the environment, the prevention of pollution and environmental degradation, the preparation of Environmental Plans for the management and protection of the environment. It was established under the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27] and operationalised on the 17th of March 2003 through SI 103 of 2003.

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