Tanzania has become the 34th African nation to impose a ban on plastic bag. The ban takes effect from June 1, 2019.
The east African nation on Saturday announced that it has banned the importation, production, sale and use of plastic bags.
Tanzania is a major tourist destination for those visiting wildlife areas. Officials have issued a notice to travellers to “surrender” plastic bags in their possession before entering the country.
A government statement said “in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from the plastic bags ban”.
Some east African countries including Uganda and Kenya have already taken the lead in banning the use of plastic bags.
Tanzania was part of some 170 countries that signed a deal in March this year to reduce the use of plastics due to the threats they pose to the environment.
They agreed to “significantly reduce” single-use plastic products over the next decade. A deal to that effect was arrived at after hours of negotiations at the UN environment assembly in Kenya.
The nations are hoping by implement such restrictions they would helped deal with the threats of plastics.
Tanzania’s vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan had said that “Let me be clear on this, once it reaches June 1, the government is not planning to add any more days and we will not tolerate anyone who will be caught using them. No plastic bag will be allowed in the country.”
Punishment for offenders
Persons caught manufacturing or importing plastic bags and plastic wrappings could face jail term of up to two years.
Such offenders could also be fined $430, 000 when caught. Those who are also caught in possession or using plastic bags could also be fined $87 or jailed for seven days, or both.
Joyce Msuya, UNEP’s Acting Executive Director has praised Tanzania for joining the list of nations banning the use of plastics.
She is quoted by AFP as saying that “It is critical that bans now be complemented by efforts to identify effective alternatives to single-use plastics…”
127 countries across the world have laws restricting use of plastic bags. 91 of them have banned or restricted the manufacturing, importation and retail distribution.
But Africa has 34 of countries implementing laws restricting use of plastics. Only Europe comes close with 29 countries doing same.
More than 300 million tonnes of plastics are produced each year.
Environmentalists say over eight million tonnes of plastics are also found in oceans across the world yearly.