Plastic ban hailed as blessing in disguise

STAKEHOLDERS have hailed government’s decision on the ban of plastic bags saying it will promote local markets for paper bags, protect people’s health and sustain environmental conservation efforts.

They aired their views in Dar es Salaam yesterday during the stakeholders meeting, organised by Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs and Environment, January Makamba, aimed at encouraging plastic bags traders to stick on the given grace period, whose dead line- 1st June this year.

The meeting was also attended by Ministers for Industry and Trade, Mr Joseph Kakunda and that of Investments, Ms Angellah Kairuki.

Makamba told the participants that over 60 countries worldwide have already banned the plastic bags production and sale and almost every week, one country gets on the list.

“It is our time now as the government had announced the ban since 2016 but stakeholders begged for grace period up to 31 December 2017. We have extended the time to June this year as per Prime Minister’s directives.

Hopefully everyone will be ready to switch in to the substitute, which is paper and cloth-related bags,” he said. Banning the plastic bags was important as some studies show that there will be more plastic bags in water bodies than fishes, by 2050, he said.

However, he clarified that the ban is for plastic bags only and not plastic materials used for packaging.

Acting General Manager for Mufindi Paper Mills, Engineer Gregory Chogo told the participants that his company used to export its products in neighbouring countries, including Kenya and Rwanda due to low demand in the country.

“The local demand is only 25 percent, but we are going to witness the boost in the availability of local markets as this time, we see seriousness of the government in the ban of plastic bag business, for betterment of people’s health, environment protection as well as contribution in to the growth of the national economy,” he said.

The Minister for Industry and Trade, Kakunda called on the stakeholders to come up with alternatives and completely abandon plastic bag uses, in the name of obeying the government’s order and set free trading environments.

For her side, Minister Kairuki told participants that the doors were open for domestic and foreign investors to invest into production of alternative bags.

The government conducted countrywide stakeholders’ sessions last year to chart out strategies that will lead to the promotion and eventual production of alternative bags.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Vice President’s Office (Environments), Ambassador Joseph Sokoine said Tanzania produces over 56,000 tonnes of plastic bags and uses over 2 billion pieces of them a year leading to serious environmental and economic threats that calls for a joint action

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