In Summary

  • The ban on plastic bags offer massive business opportunities for Tanzanians even as it also slaps a Sh30,000 fine on an individual who will be found in possession of the banned products.

Dar es Salaam. The ban on plastic bags offers attractive business opportunities to Tanzanians, with violators facing heavy fines.

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The Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union Affairs and Environment), Mr January Makamba, told Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) journalists yesterday that the ban would make a number of business opportunities available to entrepreneurs across the country.

Companies willing to produce for export will be allowed to do so as long as they get the approval of the relevant authorities and meet stipulated quality standards.

Mr Makamba, who is also the Bumbuli MP, said the impact on government revenue would be minimal, adding that the country as a whole stood to gain a great deal.

Available data shows that between 2013 and 2016, Tanzania imported an average of 1,200 tonnes of plastic bags annually, with only 72 tonnes being manufactured domestically.

“What this data tells us is that the ban will actually deal a blow to jobs in countries where the imported plastic bags were being made,” Mr Makamba said during a visit to MCL headquarters in Dar es Salaam.

The government believes that the ban will help Tanzania build a new industry specialising in the manufacture of alternative carrier bags, leading to job creation and a new revenue stream for the government.

Prior to the ban, Mr Makamba said, the government studied similar prohibitions imposed elsewhere in the region and established that most of the raw materials used in the manufacture of alternative carrier bags came from Tanzania.

Mr Makamba clarified that the ban had been imposed specifically on plastic carrier bags, and not plastic packaging for milk, bread, medicines and other items.

Over 200 individuals and firms have shown interest in the production of alternative carrier bags, he said, adding that no factory would be shut as a result of the ban.

“Since 2016 when the government first announced its intention to impose the ban, a number of manufacturers have already closed their plastic bag manufacturing lines within their operations and considered alternative options,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, the Draft Environmental Management (Prohibition of Plastic Carrier Bags) Regulations, 2019 seen by The Citizen outline penalties for individuals and entities that will violate the ban by importing, exporting, manufacturing, selling, storing, distributing and supplying the proscribed products after the ban comes into effect on June 1.

The draft regulations propose a fine of not less than Sh20 million or a jail term of not less than two years or both for people who will import plastic bags.

The manufacture, storage, supply and distribution of plastic bags contrary to the regulations can earn one a fine of Sh10 million or a jail term of not less than three years or both.

Those selling plastic bags risk a Sh100,000 fine or three months’ imprisonment or both.

“These draft regulations have been forwarded to the Attorney General’s chambers for further action,” Mr Makamba said.

Tanzania has joined about 60 other countries in banning plastic bags to tackle pollution from non-biodegradable waste.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa officially announced the ban in Dodoma earlier this month.