Travellers to Tanzania beware. From 1st June 2019 all international arrivals travelling with plastic bags, into any of the country’s airports, will be subject to heavy fines.

From this date onwards it will be illegal to use, manufacture or import any plastic bags, so the advice is to (a) avoid packing with plastic bags in suitcases or carry-on luggage; (b) refuse, or at least dispose of, any plastic packaging/bags issued when purchasing items at departure airport; (c) leave plastic bags on aeroplanes before disembarkation (including zip-lock plastics that some airports require travellers to use to store liquids).

With the recent increased focus on plastic pollution, thanks to, among others, Greta Thunberg, and Sir David Attenborough presenting films and attending political fora, Tanzania’s new law will be welcomed wholeheartedly by those with an environmental conscience.

The next question is, what are other countries doing about plastic?

A recent UN Report found that although 127 countries have adapted their laws to regulate the manufacture, import and sale of disposable single-use plastics and micro plastics since July 2018, only a handful have issued outright bans. For example, the Marshall Islands enjoy an outright ban, Tanzania’s East African neighbours Kenya and Rwanda have implemented similar bans, whereas Moldova and Uzbekistan favour progressive, phasing-out policies.

Tanzania and Zanzibar happen to be ocean-facing destinations, and therefore possibly more aware of the fact that every year around 8 million metric tons of plastic pollution finds itself in the world’s oceans. That’s the equivalent of dumping a double decker bus load into the ocean every minute.

Not good news, when you think that a single plastic bag takes up to a hundred years to decay, during which time it will cause harm to both land- and marine-based ecosystems.

Congratulations Tanzania.

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