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Plastic bags must go in June: govt

Thursday March 09 2017
plasti

A man – apparently coming out of a supermarket – carries his goods in plastic bags. The government is preparing regulations to ban them. PHOTO | FILE

Dar es Salaam. Regulations on trading in plastic bags will be completed mid this year, the government has declared.

The environment director in the Vice President’s Office, Mr Richard Muyungi, told BusinessWeek that the government was preparing regulations to completely ban plastic carrier bags at the end of June.

“Comprehensive regulations on production, trade and use of plastic bags will guide consumers, industrialists and dealers in the products. They will stipulate on control measures including offences, penalties and management of plastic waste,” Mr Muyungi said.

According to him, all stakeholders have been actively involved in the process.

“The process has taken a long time because we were supposed to learn from other countries that have banned plastic bags. The government wants the smooth process of controlling the use of harmful plastic bags.”

Environmental activists have been campaigning against the use of plastic materials for packaging and carriage of consumables on the grounds that they are health hazards and threaten living organisms.

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The United Nations Environment Programme has already declared plastic waste a great threat to survival of marine organisms.

Scientists predict that by 2050 all fish will die in case plastic materials are deposited in seas without control, says Mr Silvani Mng’anya, principal programme officer of an environmental protection NGO, Agenda.

“The government is yet to ban the use of plastic bags although there have been political declarations on their danger to environment and health. Rwanda banned them in 2008, but other East African countries are still hesitant,” he says.

Last year the government set January 2017 as the deadline for use of plastic bags, but the plan has not been enforced due to powerful business interests.

National Environment Trust Fund board chairman Ali Mufuruki has said some industrialists and dealers have begun implementing a ban of plastic carrier bags before the law is enforced.

“I have a factory for manufacturing plastic bags and I am ready to abandon the production of such products. The major supermarkets in the city are no longer using carrier plastic bags, says Mufuruki.

According him, there have been regular consultations among stakeholders on the matter considering the fact that plastic materials are harmful to people.

“Plastic bags block sewerage systems, making water stagnant and creating breeding grounds for waterborne diseases such as cholera.”

Scientists have also established that plastic waste makes soil unproductive.

Light plastic bags have been traded in retail shops.

 A number of companies have been producing and recycling plastic materials.

Last week, the government banned production and trading of alcohol sachets.