On June 1, 2019, a nation-wide ruling came into effect to ban the use, production and sale of plastic bags in Tanzania. With the risk of incurring a fine or facing a jail sentence, people around the country had to rapidly adapt to the situation that was initiated by the government. Plastic finds it way into environments all over the world. Since it is mostly dumped into environments, like oceans, after use, the ban was widely welcomed by environmental organizations around the world. Country Director of Tanzania from the WWF, Dr. Amani Ngusaru, congratulated the government and spoke about the perils of plastic use, according to the WWF.
While plastic bans have enjoyed a royal welcome by many people who seek to protect the environment, their effectiveness has come into question. The first point of dispute is whether people will comply with the legislation. In Kenya, where there has been a similar ban since 2017, cartels have formed to illegally trade in plastic bags, as they smuggle them in from neighbouring countries without such bans. This, according to an article in the National Geographic, has limited the full impact of the ban and caused an additional problem to the environmental issue of plastic usage, the illegality of the outlawed trade. Of course, trading in such materials in Kenya or Tanzania today has it consequences, which should curtail the desire to do so for most law-abiding citizens.
Manufacturers in the plastic industry have also spoken out, in Kenya. They have warned against the loss of jobs outlawing plastic production would cause. Their concerns, although heard, have not been adhered to as more and more countries seek to join the plastic-banning movement across the world. Jobs can also be replaced, as the market will act to create new production facilities employing people to produce items that carry bought goods. Jute and paper bags have been all the rave in Tanzania, with major retailers, like Shoppers Plaza, utilizing them to help their customers carry their purchased goods.
The full effect of the ban has not been presently measured. There has been a generally feel of change in the country, as many people speak about the ban. Friends, family and colleagues have advised each other about using plastic in the build-up to Tanzania outlawing it back in June 1st of this year. There has also been an atmosphere of improved cleanliness in Dar es Salaam, according to Tatu Othman, an employee working in the city. That is to say that there have been positive effects of reducing plastic usage in the waste management efforts of city officials as wells as a growing sense of societal comradeship, with people coming together to prepare for this movement.
The environmental effects have also not been measured, as of yet. The whole point of such bans is to protect the environment. Plastic takes around 100 years to fully erode and there are around 8 million tonnes of plastic leaking into the world’s oceans every year, according to National Geographic. It has been pointed out that replacing plastic with paper is counterintuitive, as paper absorbs more water in the production process. All in all, the spirit of the ban initiated by Tanzania’s government officials is what really matters, as the more moves from creating environmental issues to managing them.
To sum up, Tanzania’s plastic ban has had a monumentous, sweeping effect across the country, with people all around the world speaking out in favour of such a motion. Their effectiveness ahs come into question, with the outcome of the ban not being comprehensively measured, as of yet. Many manufacturers and opponents of outlawing plastic have spoken out, but their efforts have been proved redundant by a growing number of nations who chose to impose plastic-free policies. People in Tanzania have really come together ever since the government announced its plans, and there has been word of a cleaner environment in the country. What remains to be done is to measure the full environmental effect of banning plastic, in order to rule, once and for all, in favour of such actions and in the promotion of more countries following suit.