Tanzania’s most polluting industrial activities revealed

Thursday May 9 2019

A production plant releasing heavy smoke into

A production plant releasing heavy smoke into the air. A new report has revealed the five most polluting industrial activities in Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE 

By BusinessWeek Reporter @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. With Tanzania’s natural resources threatened by growth of economic activities and industrialization among other reasons, a new report has identified five sectors which are described as the dirtiest that account for the largest share of pollution loads.

The industrial sectors raise concerns as Tanzania is moving on with its industrialization agenda currently under implementation.

According to a new report, leading pollutants are categorized into sectors and regions to allow priotization of measures.

The Tanzania Country Environmental Analysis which was launched early this week was prepared in partnership between the government, the World Bank and with support from the Swedish Embassy and the country’s development agency (Sida).

The five “dirtiest” sectors which lead in the overall pollution in Tanzania include basic iron and steel; plastics products; basic chemicals; vegetable and animal oils and fats; and cement, lime and plaster.

These five most polluting industrial sectors are said to account for over 90 per cent of particles that have aerodynamic diameters less than or equal to 10 microns (PM10) emissions; over 75 per cent of toxic metals; 66 per cent of sulphur dioxide(SO2) and 60 per cent of total toxic emissions.

However, they release only 10 per cent of biological oxygen demand (BOD)- a measure of organic pollution.

The plastics products sector is reported to contribute about 39 per cent of the total toxic chemicals while the basic iron and steel sector contributes about 52 per cent of the toxic metals, according to the report. Tanzania has announced to ban production and use of plastic bags effective June 1, 2019 with the aim of conserving the environment.

For air pollution, the cement, lime, and plaster sector contributes an estimated 66 per cent of the total PM10 and 34 per cent of total sulphur dioxide.

The experts say although Tanzania’s industrialization is still in its early stages, there is growing concern of increased pollution if the process is not properly managed.

“Emerging issues such as ambient air pollution, or toxic waste, or industrial pollution, can still be tackled now at a fraction of the cost of what will take to tackle them in the future. Doing the right thing today is just much cheaper than cleaning up the mess later in the future,” said the World Bank country director for Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somalia.

Tanzania’s pollution-related challenges are frequently associated with urban settlements, industrialization, and agglomeration, some of which have only recently emerged.

“Preventing pollution today avoids tomorrow’s costly cleanup actions and offers opportunities for better quality of public goods such as air, water, and soil” said Veruschka Schmidt, World Bank environmental specialist and co-author of the report.

On the other hand, Dar es Salaam is reported to be the leading producer of industrial pollution accounting for about 88 per cent of all industrial pollution in Tanzania, reflecting the high concentration of industries that are located in the area.

The industrial pollution concerns come as Tanzania plans to expand processing through its industrialization drive.

Through the National Development Plan for 2016/17–2020/21, Tanzania targets expansion in the petroleum, petrochemicals, pharmaceutical, building and construction, agro and agro-processing (cotton to clothing, textiles and garment, and leather), coal, iron, and steel subsectors.

“Therefore, as the country’s industry scales up, the regulatory authorities have a good idea of its technical capacity and hardware needs to improve its monitoring and compliance activities,” states the report.

The report proposes improving pollution regulations and enforcement today describing it as an early and cost-effective government investment in preventing higher pollution loads in the medium term.

The authors say having regulations in place before new investments are made is easier than trying to get firms to retrofit at a later stage.

In the Dar es Salaam area, efforts should be focused on a ray of measures including promoting self-reporting by industries, especially those with the size and resources to do it; improving monitoring of polluting emissions, both at the source and in key areas; and promoting clean production using a variety of command and control mechanisms and well-designed incentives.

The other measure involves exploring principles of the “circular economy” through which the by-products of an industry become the inputs of another.

Facilitating access to cleaner fuels, offering solid and liquid waste collection and processing solutions, and requesting end-of-pipe technologies in cases where pollution cannot be avoided, are key to reducing industrial pollution impacts in Dar es Salaam, which is the largest settlement in the country.

In other less developed regions, the report proposes efforts should be focused on clean production technologies, and supporting new industries to adopt sound environmental performance practices and processes. Tanzania also requires the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before development of projects as the country attempts to curb industrial pollution. Each industry is mandated to prepare an EIA to obtain an operating license. These EIAs analyse the possible impacts to humans and the environment, identify alternatives that are less impactful, define mitigation measures, and establish monitoring and evaluation programmes.