From the 1stJune this year, Tanzania will join other East African nations and many countries worldwide in banning single use plastic bags; but why? Well that’s easy, pollution. Plastic bags are made from oil, which, when burnt, release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When buried, they slowly degrade into microbeads that end up in our water sources and food products. Let’s be clear here, microbeads are not part of a healthy diet!
So, what do the regulations actually say? It’s quite clear; ‘a total ban on the sale, distribution and use of ALL plastic bags, regardless of thickness.’
There are exceptions to this, that is ‘any of the following materials that are sold in plastic bags: food products, medical services, agricultural and construction materials, sanitary and waste management.’
Enforcement of the regulations will be by the police, revenue authority, ports authority and local councils… essentially anyone who is anyone in enforcement. In short, the best approach here, that is if you want to avoid some pretty hefty fines or jail time is to do what needs to be done - stop using any plastic bags.
If you’re a massive plastic bag user, change is coming. But this change shouldn’t be seen as a negative, it’s actually an alternative for many Tanzanians to create an economy making bags out on less polluting materials. You can support your local women’s groups by buying a kikapu and take your own bags to the shops. But remember, if you are caught with a plastic bag, it’s you that gets the fine.
For now, single use plastic bottles will remain, but based on what’s happening in the rest of the world, they too will soon be banned.
- Marc Baker (Carbon Tanzania)