Tanzania to ban plastic bags by June

Sunday April 14 2019

single-use plastic bags

Tanzania has announced that it will ban single-use plastic bags by July 1. Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan and Burundi have already banned them. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

ROSE MIREMBE
By ROSE MIREMBE
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HALIMA ABDALLAH
By HALIMA ABDALLAH
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Tanzanian has announced that it will ban single-use polythene bags from June in the war against plastic pollution.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told parliament in Dodoma this week that polythene bags will no longer be used for commercial purposes or household packaging, and warned producers and suppliers to dispose of their stocks.

The Office of the Vice President will ensure the enforcement of the ban through regulations to be introduced under the environment law.

Deputy Minister in the Vice President’s Office Mussa Sima said the regulations have been prepared and are only awaiting publication in the official gazette.

Tanzania’s Environment Minister January Makamba told Parliament on Monday that the regulations were ready for publication.

“It is possible that July 1 will mark the end of the use of plastics in the country,” he said.

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In East Africa, Rwanda led the way in enforcing a ban on plastics. In 2017, Kenya passed a law imposing hefty fines on offenders, and South Sudan recently followed suit. Burundi adopted a ban in 2018.

During the World Environment Day last year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni asked the country's security chiefs to enforce a ban on the use of polythene bags, and ordered manufacturers to stop making them.

The directive was in line with a shelved law that barred single-use bags. However, the directive was not implemented.

But on February 19, 2019, President Museveni signed into law the National Environment Management Bill, which strengthens government’s hand in enforcing the ban on polythene material use.

Commercial interests

In 2007, Uganda announced a ban on the importation, manufacture and use of plastic materials made of polymers of less than 30 microns, but the government halted enforcement after industry players opposed the move.

Manufacturers said they needed time to get rid of existing stock, arguing that a phased enforcement would work better.

“We have a new Act, but it is not yet effective,” National Environment Management Authority executive director Tom Okurut told The EastAfrican. “The Minister for Environment is supposed to announce the date when the law becomes effective.

“Implementation will be done by the Ministry of Trade,” Dr Okurut added.

Traders have been against the law, citing potential extra costs of up to $30 million in recycling technologies.

The new Act repeals the Nema Act, taking care of concerns that were not covered in the old Act. For instance, it creates room for conformity with existing polices, provides for emerging environmental issues like climate change, management of hazardous chemicals, biodiversity offsets and petroleum activities, and provides for management of plastic products.

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