Tanzania bans plastic bags

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The government of Tanzania has issued a ban on producing, using, importing, or selling plastic bags.

Starting in 2016 Tanzania began to warn manufacturers of plastic bags of the forthcoming ban, informed the National Assembly, and then issued a warning about actions that will be taken against industries that continue manufacturing plastic bags.

In addition to the parts of the ban that focus on producing and selling plastic bags, on May 16 the government of Tanzania issued a statement to travelers to the country that read, “The Government of Tanzania wishes to make an official note to travelers planning to travel to Tanzania that from 1st June 2019 all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness will be prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in mainland Tanzania.”

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The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reports that approximately 90% of trash on the ocean surface is plastics, demonstrating just one of the ways single use plastic items, such as plastic bags, contribute to global pollution. In places like Tanzania, where much of the garbage is burned, plastic trash is additionally ending up as toxic fumes, which negatively affect climate change and air quality. The ban on plastic bags is a proactive step towards lowering the countries contribution to climate change.

Tanzania joins 13 other African countries, and more than 40 countries around the world, that have legislation that limits or bans the use of plastic bags. Tanzania’s ban joins other movement towards eliminating plastic waste as well, including the European Union’s announcement in March voting to eliminate single use plastics. In the United States, California and Hawaii currently have plastic bags bans, and New York’s ban will go into effect in 2020.

How does banning plastic bags encourage development of sustainable alternatives to plastic? What are the laws surrounding single use plastics in your area?

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