ON June 1, 2019 Tanzania joined other countries across the world to effectively ban the production, importation, supply and use of plastic carrier bags that were polluting the environment and water.
Now the government, through Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), has issued guidelines to producers, distributors and importers of non-woven bags regarded as the best alternative carrier bags.
Already in different markets and shops in various parts of the country the use of environmentally-friendly alternative carrier bags is gathering momentum.
This will make a big difference in environmental conservation and protection for if we want nature to care for us we have first to care for it and this is what we have committed ourselves to doing.
The government has done this amidst global concerns for environmental and water pollution, which is detrimental to human health, the environment itself and other living orgarnisms.
A new study suggests that microplastics are pervasive from the surface to the seafloor and are probably entering the food chain.
The study, conducted on plastic debris measuring less than 5 millimetres by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and Monterey Bay Aquarium in Moss Landing, California, concludes that the scale of pollution could be larger than previously estimated, with more microplastics found hundreds of metres down than in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – the largest accumulation of ocean plastics in the world.
This could be true with Tanzania and other African countries sharing Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea as well as inland lakes and rivers.
Besides the guidelines, the Plastics Carrier Bags Regulations, 2019, which basically prohibit the importation, exportation, manufacturing, sale, supply, storage and use of plastic carrier bags in Mainland Tanzania, impose stern penalties to violators.
The Regulations provide that “alternative carrier bags” means any bag made from organic material or woven recyclable material or non-woven material without plastic content or any such materials as the minister may determine from time to time.
They further provide that no person shall sell or offer for sale beverages or other commodities wrapped in plastics unless the nature of such commodities require wrappings by plastics.
In doing this Tanzania supports global efforts to contain plastic pollution by 2025 by demonstrating “investable and scalable” circular economy solutions in some coastal economies by 2020 and throughout the world at large.
Thus, by banning plastic carrier bags Tanzania has demonstrated that it is committed to fulfilling international obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights – in this case - environmental justice for present and future generations.
Therefore, alternative carrier bag guidelines have come at the right time and certainly there is no turning back in the fight against environmental and water pollution.