Environmental issues should be top priority for any country in the world. The world is suffering due to rising levels of pollution. Much of the pollution comes from the use of plastic bags. Some African countries have taken a leap forward in banning the usage of plastic bags.
Banning plastic bags in Africa has come with some considerable success, as well as some shortcomings. Countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and others are leading the race to ban plastic bags. The issue of preserving the environment has great precedence such that some of the fines imposed on people who do not comply with plastic bag regulations are considered a bit too much by some.
Recently, Tanzania issued a warning to travellers stating that from the 1st of June 2019, "all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness will be prohibited imported, exported or manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in Mainland Tanzania." This is the second phase of its plastic bag ban. The first phase began in January 2017.
Tanzania provides a good example on the stringent conditions being imposed on using plastic bags. There are some exceptions however, and they apply for "for medical, industrial, construction, agricultural, and waste management packaging, as well as for the small 'ziploc' bags used to carry toiletries."
National Geographic state that Africa leads the world in plastic bag bans, with 34 countries adopting taxes or bans. 31 of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenya's 2017 ban on plastic has come with some important observation points. In 2017, Kenya announced a ban on the use, making or importing of plastics which can harm the environment. Those in contravention of this regulation policy are liable to pay a fine of up to $40, 000 or risk spending 4 years in jail. The country has been "visibly cleaner" National Geographic noted, "Bags that once hung like windblown shrouds from tree branches are fewer in number, as are clumps of bags that clogged drainage systems and created breeding pools for malaria-bearing mosquitoes."
But the problem is not yet over. Kenya faces enforcement problems in relation to the law, and the ban has generally been met with resistance. There has been the creation of "bag cartels" as illegal plastic bags are being smuggled into the country. But others argue that an "imperfect ban is better than none." Rwanda is also leading when it comes to plastic bag regulations, with Kigali being touted as arguably one of the cleanest cities in Africa.
There is still a long way to go, but the current interventions being implemented are registering some considerable progress. As time moves, more effective ways of enforcing these bans will be found. But for the meantime, it is plausible to commend the efforts being taken by other African countries.
Header image credit - World Economic Forum