IT is 10 days before the plastic bag ban becomes effective on the 1st of June and we can’t wait to begin life without plastic bags.
The government is taking necessary precautions to make sure life does not become difficult after the ban is enforced.
It conducted countrywide stakeholders’ sessions last year to chart out strategies that will lead to the promotion and eventual production of alternative bags.
Until the ban will be enforced there are assurances of local capacity to produce alternative bags. As we are still musing how we are going to adapt to life without the bags we wish to reiterate that the benefits of the ban would far outweigh the inconveniences that may happen.
One needs not go far in Dar es Salaam to see the menace of the plastic bags on the environment.
They easily escape from trash bins and end up littering the landscape where they are blowing down the street, flapping from trees, clogging storm drains and making their way out to the ocean.
The United Nations Environmental Protection Agency reports that between 550 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year and most of it ends up in our oceans.
Studies estimate there are now 15–51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans — from the equator to the poles. Not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution, according to the centre for Biological Diversity.
Worldwatch Institute reports that at least 267 species of marine wildlife are known to have suffered or died from entanglement or ingestion of plastic marine debris.
Tanzania joins about 13 countries in Africa that have either banned or introduced a levy on plastic bags to control and eventually stop its use.
In East Africa Kenya introduced a complete ban on plastics last August while in Uganda In 2007, a ban of lightweight plastic bags was introduced and came into effect that year.
As the government steps up the fight against plastic pollution in the country, we wish to reiterate that control of plastic pollution calls for all stakeholders’ participation in raising awareness and making sure that the ban is being effectively observed.
For travellers to Tanzania, we hope they will understand what we are trying to do to protect the environment and will not be upset when they are advised to avoid packing or carrying plastic bags, or when they will be required to leave them at airports.