Tanzania Announces Strict Plastic Ban As Africa Leads The Way For The World

Africa is pushing to end plastic pollution.

Tanzania announced an all-out ban on single-use plastic bags beginning June 1. It's the second phase of their effort to ban plastic bags in the country, and they join 33 other countries in Africa that have announced similar bans on single-use plastics, according to The Irish Times

All across Africa, single-use plastics are putting a strain on the environment. Much of the plastic is burned and creates air pollution. The rest of it ends up in the oceans, water supplies, or stuck in trees and brush across the planet, which harms marine life, land mammals and gives countries a dirtier appearance. Now, the continent as a whole is trying to reverse course.


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Tanzania is warning foreign visitors not to pack plastic bags when they visit, according to Quartz. With few exceptions, any plastic bags you attempt to bring into the country will be confiscated at the airport. The government said plastic carrier bags would be banned from being "imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in mainland Tanzania."

The statement also issued a warm invitation to visitors, noting that Tanzania had to protect its environment.

"The government does not intend for visitors to Tanzania to find their stay unpleasant as we enforce the ban," the government said in a statement. "However, the government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from this."

Quartz reported that certain exceptions for small Ziploc bags to carry toiletries or medical equipment would be made. But it's another step forward for the continent as a whole, which is making a major push to reduce pollution and give the country a cleaner appearance. 

In Kenya, manufacturers and importers who are caught using plastic bags could be fined up to $38,000 or thrown in prison. A UN environmental study said, despite some opposition, the strict bans are effectively reducing the presence of toxic fumes. 

"Burning of plastic waste increase the risk of heart disease, aggravates respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema and cause rashes, nausea or headaches, and damages the nervous system," the study said.

James Wakibia, who helped campaign for Kenya's plastic bag ban, told the UN that even though the bans aren't working everywhere it's been a big step.

"This is such positive news and I hope more countries in Africa and the world follow suit in phasing out single-use plastics," Wakibia said. 

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