File photo. Source: Pixabay

Tanzania plans to ban the production, importation, sale and use of all single-use plastic bags by July, to help tackle pollution from non-biodegradable waste… which will be a relief to South African expats in the country who have long voiced concern over the mounting plastic bag crisis, with winds blowing thousands of discarded plastic bags into the bush where they catch on branches and twigs and form a wall of shredded plastic.

File photo. Source: Pixabay

The East African nation is the latest country to make a formal commitment to phase out single-use non-biodegradable plastics, which have been identified by the United Nations as one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.

Of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic the world has produced, only 9 percent has been recycled, according to U.N. estimates.

Tanzania will join more than 60 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single-use plastic bags, including China, France, Kenya, Rwanda and Italy.

Unfortunately South Africa does not (yet) have a law banning plastic bags, although many of its citizens are very conscious to not use straws or plastic bags. To reduce littering and discourage customers from buying them, South Africa increased the plastic bag levy in April 2018 by 50 percent to 12 cents per bag.

In August 2017, Kenya introduced one of the world’s toughest bans on plastic bags mandating four years in prison or a fine of $40,000 for even using one!

“The regulations are ready for publication … it is possible that July 1 will mark the end of the use of plastics in the country,” Tanzania’s Environment Minister January Makamba told Parliament on Monday.

Makamba said a formal announcement on the ban of single-use plastic bags in Tanzania would likely be made later this month.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by George Obulutsa and Hugh Lawson/Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople)