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Tanzania Bans Plastic Bags: What Travellers Need to Know

East Africa Tanzania Bans Plastic Bags Effective June 1st 2019.

Tanzania, the land of vast savannas, majestic wildlife, and vibrant cultures, has taken a decisive leap towards environmental preservation. On June 1st, 2019, the Tanzanian government officially banned the entry, production, sale, and use of all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness. This bold move aims to combat plastic pollution and protect the country’s natural beauty. Visitors must avoid carrying or using plastic carrier bags for items in their suitcase or in their hand luggage. However, ziplock bags specifically used to carry toiletries are permitted as they are expected to remain the permanent possession of visitors and to not be disposed of in Tanzania.

The Announcement

In a press statement from the Vice President’s office, the Tanzanian government made its intentions clear: plastic bags would no longer be welcome within its borders. Travelers planning to visit Tanzania were notified that from June 1st, 2019, these ubiquitous plastic carriers would be prohibited. A special desk was set up at entry points to enforce this measure, ensuring that the ban was rigorously implemented.

Why Ban Plastic Bags?
  • Environmental Impact: Plastic bags pose a significant threat to Tanzania’s pristine landscapes. They clog waterways, litter national parks, and harm wildlife. By banning plastic bags, Tanzania takes a stand for its unique ecosystems, including the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Zanzibar’s turquoise shores.
  • Wildlife Protection: The ban directly benefits Tanzania’s diverse fauna. Animals often mistake plastic bags for food, leading to ingestion and suffocation. With this ban, Tanzania aims to safeguard its iconic elephants, lions, and rhinos.
  • Tourism and Reputation: Tanzania relies heavily on tourism. Visitors come to witness the Great Migration, explore ancient Stone Town, and climb Kilimanjaro. A cleaner, plastic-free environment enhances the country’s reputation and attracts responsible travelers.

The Journey to the Ban

This ban didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual process: August 2016: The government warned plastic bag manufacturers to diversify their businesses. The January 2017 full implementation of a plastics ban was looming, and industries were urged to find alternatives.
April 2016: Minister of Union Affairs and Environment, January Makamba, addressed the National Assembly. “We are warning industries that stern action. Tanzania was resolute in its commitment to a plastic-free future.

The ban has had several positive effects:

Cleaner Streets and Parks: Tanzanians embraced reusable bags, reducing litter in cities and natural areas.
Innovation: Entrepreneurs explored eco-friendly alternatives, from woven baskets to cloth bags.
Community Awareness: Schools, NGOs, and local leaders educated communities about the ban’s importance.

The authorities are highly unlikely to actually search your possessions for plastic carrier bags. It’s businesses that are seeing the law enforced. But for travelers wishing to keep everything above board, it’s an important law to know.

A Model for Others

Tanzania’s plastic bag ban serves as a model for other nations. It demonstrates that environmental protection is achievable through collective effort and strong leadership. As travelers, let’s support this initiative by packing reusable bags and respecting Tanzania’s commitment to a greener future.

So, when you visit Tanzania, leave the plastic behind and embrace the beauty of a country that values its natural heritage. Together, we can make a difference—one reusable bag at a time.

Will I get fined using plastic bags?

Absolutely. Here are the fines categories; (in US dollars), Plastic bags import fine is about $8687, Plastic bags export fine nearly $8687. Manufacturing plastic bags in Tanzania can lead to a two-year prison sentence or a fine of up to $400,000 (€357,000). Anyone found carrying a bag can be subject to an on-the-spot fine of $13. Selling plastic bags will be fined up to $5. Using plastic bags will let you fined at least $15

When did the ban become active?

The ban on plastic bags in Tanzania became active on June 1st, 2019.

Why did the Tanzanian government ban plastic bags?

The primary motivation behind the ban was environmental protection. Plastic bags cause harm in several ways, including wildlife endangerment, clogged sewage systems, and aesthetic deterioration. By eliminating plastic bags, Tanzania aims to preserve its natural beauty and reduce pollution.

What types of plastic bags are allowed?

Under the government’s ban, there are exceptions. It’s acceptable for stores to hand out plastic bags in specific cases, including when the bag holds:

  • Uncooked meat, fish, or poultry
  • Bulk items
  • Sliced or prepared foods
  • A newspaper for delivery
  • Prescription drugs
How has the ban impacted Tanzania?

Cleaner Streets and Parks: Tanzanians have embraced reusable bags, reducing litter in cities and natural areas.
Innovation: Entrepreneurs have explored eco-friendly alternatives.
Community Awareness: Schools, NGOs, and local leaders educate communities about the ban’s importance.

Is Tanzania’s ban a model for other nations?

Absolutely! Tanzania’s plastic bag ban serves as a model for other countries, demonstrating that environmental protection is achievable through collective effort and strong leadership. Let’s support this initiative and embrace a greener future—one reusable bag at a time!

Now that plastic bags are banned in Tanzania, what are the alternatives?

Certainly! With the ban on plastic bags in Tanzania, several eco-friendly alternatives have emerged to replace these single-use carriers. Here are some sustainable options:

  • Paper Bags: These are a classic alternative. Many stores now offer paper bags as an eco-conscious choice.
  • Cloth or Fabric Bags: Reusable bags made from fabric or other durable materials are gaining popularity.
  • Baskets: Traditional woven baskets made from materials like sisal, palm leaves, papyrus, or baobab are excellent alternatives. They are not only functional but also culturally significant.
  • Biodegradable Bags: Some companies produce biodegradable bags made from plant-based materials. These bags break down naturally and have a lower environmental impact compared to plastic.

Remember, by choosing these alternatives, we contribute to a cleaner environment and support Tanzania’s commitment to conservation. Let’s embrace sustainable practices and reduce plastic waste!

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