Manufacturers hope for middle-ground on bag ban

Men burn plastic bags outside the Ocean Road Cancer Institute during a national cleanup in 2015. As Tanzania mulls a total ban on plastic bags, manufacturers hope for the middle-ground while others say a total ban is necessary to save lives. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

A public hearing on the plan to ban plastic bags heard from both sides of the debate on Saturday, July 23.

The meeting, held at Karimjee Hall, was arranged by January Makamba, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s office responsible for Union and Environmental Affairs.

Joseph Wasonga, of the Plastic Manufacturers Association of Tanzania (PMAT) says a total ban would cost the government $23 million USD in annual tax revenues and about 6,000 jobs.

According to Xinhua news, Wasonga says the solution is to tighten controls about what kind of plastic bags are produced locally and tighten controls on ‘substandard’ imported bags.

“The solution to this environmental problem is to produce bio-degradable plastic bags,” says Wasonga.


Others at the meeting supported a total ban and called for a change in direction to ‘save lives and to protect the environment.’

In August 2016, the Vice President’s office issued a statement listing a long series of grievances against plastic bags: their impact on soil quality, nuisance of general litter, blocking of drains and causing floods, damage to ecosystems, death of animals which accidentally consume plastic materials, endangering human health when used to contain hot foods, poisonous gasses released when used as a fire starter, and air pollution when burned.

A total ban on plastic bags was originally set for January 2017, then pushed to the end of June 2017.

Whenever the ban does come into effect, it is expected there will be an amnesty period after which the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) will conduct spot checks with on-the-spot fines for businesses not adhering to the ban.

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