Enough rubbish – Malawi bans plastic bags


Plastic bags have been banned in Malawi, despite a long legal battle.

The ban was first imposed in 2015, but some plastic manufacturers sought an injunction claiming it was an ‘infringement of business rights’. 

Judges in the nation’s highest court have now overturned the challenge. It’s a victory Tearfund’s Country Director for Malawi, Vincent Moyo, says couldn’t have come sooner:

‘Plastic bags are a major menace in Malawi. Lately we have seen goats, cows, and other livestock dying after eating the thin plastic bags which are poorly disposed of.

‘Local farmers and those who fish now have hope they can protect their animals, fish and the environment itself.’

‘Plastic bags are a major menace in Malawi.'

Vincent Moyo

Good company
Malawi joins several African countries that have passed single-use plastic bans or who operate them including Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.

According to the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Malawi produces 75,000 tons of plastic each year, of which 80% cannot be recycled. Much of it ends up in rivers and lakes, killing fish and hampering the fishing industry.

Vincent recently visited the Dowa district and heard firsthand accounts of the problem of plastic waste: ‘Local partner Ministry of Hope introduced me to Mr Chitekwele, who complained of losing four of his ten goats because they had eaten grass contaminated with thin plastics.’

Advocates for change
Tearfund in Malawi is part of the Malawi Creation Care Network. ‘Together we are a voice that will influence policies that are environmentally friendly and lessen the long-term effects of climate change,’ says Vincent.

Could you support Tearfund's Rubbish Campaign calling on multinational companies to take responsibility for their plastic waste in poorer countries? Sign up here


  • Thank God that the legal challenge to halt the ban of plastic bags in Malawi was rejected.
  • Pray for the farmers and those in the fishing industry whose livelihoods have been affected by plastic pollution. May they begin to recover their businesses and be successful.

  • Thank God for the terrific response we’ve had so far to our Rubbish Campaign, and pray that it continues to have a big impact on multinational companies.

Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.