Tanzanian authorities said on Sunday that they were planning to completely ban the use of environmentally harmful plastic bags.
“We will borrow a leaf from our neighbouring Rwanda that has successfully eliminated the use of such bags,” said January Makamba, the east African nation’s Minister for Environment.
Makamba said he has ordered officials at the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) to come up with a plan on how to tackle the disposal of plastic bags in the country.
“We want to first do research and understand how best to handle the use of plastic bags by shoppers. We will borrow a leaf from Rwanda on how they succeeded,” said Makamba.
Non-biodegradable polythene bags are illegal in Rwanda. In 2008, while the rest of the world was barely starting to consider a tax on single-use plastic bags, Rwanda decided to ban them completely.
It is part of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 plan to transform the country into a sustainable middle-income nation. Anyone using plastic bags is breaking the law on environmental protection aimed at cleaning up cities, according to the Rwandan government. People are advised to use paper bags instead.
About five years ago, the Tanzanian government said it would soon make a total ban on the manufacture and trade in all kinds of plastic bags.
But, according to Makamba, it has been difficult to take bold steps on the matter as some of the issues regarding the nature of the polythene papers targeted had not yet been sorted out.
“There are a lot of technicalities related to the use of plastic bags and the type of bags to eliminate. That needs research. We will weigh out the costs and benefits and come up with the right solution,”he said.
He revealed that he would soon call a meeting of all environment stakeholders in the country to try and establish the best way to tackle the problem according to the law on the Prohibition of Plastic Bags Regulations of 2006.