Arusha/Dar — With three weeks remaining before the plastic ban is enforced, an Arusha college has started training entrepreneurs on simple technologies to make paper bags.
The training, which attracted the first batch of over 30 small scale entrepreneurs commenced on Saturday at the newly established Tanganyika Polytechnic College.
"The course has been introduced in anticipation of the rising demand of the paper bags following the plastic ban," said the college director, Dr Richard Masika.
Meanwhile, the National Environment Management Council (Nemc) announced in Dar es Salaam yesterday that during the interim period, district officials will demarcate dumping zones, warning that violators of the ban risk a fine of up to Sh20 million.
"Regulations made under the Environment Act of 2004, award a Sh20 million fine to a convicted importer and exporter of banned bags while production, storage and distribution of the bags will attract a Sh10 million fine and selling of the bags will cost the seller a Sh10,000 fine while a person caught using the bags will be fined Sh30,000," the Nemc director general, Dr Samuel Gwamaka, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
He said production of alternative bags was progressing well. "At the moment, we have 25 local industries producing paper bags and other industries producing other types of alternative bags. Production of such bags is expected to increase in the near future," he assured.
In Arusha, the training at Tanganyika Polytechnic College has been initiated in a bid to get rid of the plastics as well, he added, noting; " This is also an opportunity for the small entrepreneurs to make money from the paper bags."
Those trained will make the paper bags, which will be sold to different clients.
The government announced recently that from June 1, 2019, the use of most plastic containers would be prohibited due to their health and environmental effects.
Tanzania would join 60 other countries across the world, including the neighbouring Kenya and Rwanda, in enforcing the ban on the plastics.
The course would also expose the entrepreneurs to simple technologies in making the bags from papers and other environmentally friendly materials such as cotton, sisal, banana leaves and leather.
Paper bags in focus are those used in bakeries and shopping, egg trays and decorations, among other domestic and commercial uses, Dr Masika explained.
Available statistics indicate plastic waste form a significant bulk of 550 tonnes of solid waste generated daily in Arusha city.
Some efforts had been made to recycle some of the discarded plastics and other polythylene materials, but most of them are still piling up in some suburbs of the country's safari capital.
However, there are no figures of plastic wastes generated in Arusha.
But until a few years ago, a local firm collected at least 2.5 tonnes of used plastics a day, including the discarded water/liquid bottles and nylon bags.
Most of the collection was shredded and transported to major recycling firms in Dar es Salaam and Kenya to make other products