THE National Environment Management Council (NEMC) has cleared the air over the plastic ban, assuring service providers at Tanzanian airports throughout the country that they will still be permitted to use them within the provisions of the law.
According to NEMC Lawyer, Mr Manchare Heche, plastics will be used in accordance to provisions of number nine of the Plastic Carrier Bags Regulations, 2019 which requires authorities to store them after use before destroying them.
"The ban concerns all Tanzanians and foreigners, however, certain exemptions from the ban are expressly provided for, and these include plastic or plastic packaging for medical services, industrial products, construction industry, agricultural sector, food processing or sanitary and waste management," he said.
Speaking at a meeting organised by Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) in Dar es Salaam, he said the law did not ban bags for food packaging, but after use, they must be destroyed.
He said airline passengers will be required to remove the non-recyclable plastic carriers before arriving - although "ziplock" bags, used as part of airport security procedures, are still permitted.
Plastic which was introduced in Africa a generation ago has been reported to pollute both the seas and land at an alarming rate.
According to environmentalists, plastic affects all biological spectrum; including posing risks to human health and wildlife.
The accumulation of these products has led to increasing amounts of environmental pollution around the world, including Africa. About 90 per cent of all trash floating on the ocean's surface is believed to be emanating from plastics.
Tanzania joins a growing list of countries around the world which have implemented a plastic ban, with Africa often leading the way in tackling plastic waste.
The ban, which comes into effect on 1 June, targets all plastic bags "imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used". Director of Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), Mr Paul Rwegasha, said they have already disseminated such information via TAA to all local and international airports.
He also urged all stakeholders working in the airports to assist passengers who are not aware of what is going on regarding the plastic ban. The Plastic Carrier Bags Regulations, 2019 contains hefty penalties.
For example, manufacturing or importation of prohibited plastic bags and plastic wrappings can lead to fines of up to Sh1 billion, or imprisonment of up to two years, or both.
Possession and usage can lead to fines of up to 200,000/- or imprisonment of up to 7 days, or both.