In an attempt to protect its environment and tourism industry,
Zanzibar, situated in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Tanzania, has banned the import and production of plastic bags.
Tourism is the core sector of the economy of the island, also a popular stop-off point on journeys to the east African mainland. It is estimated that over 200 tonnes of bags travel through its port every month.
“Besides being an eyesore, plastic bags are very damaging to land and marine life and we are already threatened by the rapid pace of development,” commented Zanzibar’s Director of Environment Ali Juma. ‘We have to put the environment above everything,”
The problem is not confined to Zanzibar, as an on-spot survey In Tanzania, commissioned by British daily The Guardian, demonstrated earlier this year:
“There is need for the government to develop legal mechanisms to compel polythene bags dealers to establish recycling plants to minimise circulation of hazardous plastic waste in Dar es Salaam. Empty plastic bottles as well as polythene papers are usually littered all over the city and its environs every day.”
According to the survey, lack of scientific disposal of plastic and polythene materials was a ‘time bomb’, an environmental and health hazard in Dar es Salama, where ‘almost the whole populace’ appeared careless about the disposal of plastic and polythene materials.
As Silvan Mng’anya, Secretary of the Agenda for Environment and Responsible Development pointed out, ”People dispose plastic bags, bottles and polythene papers anyhow, and this is very dangerous. These materials pose a great threat to the environment and human health … They causes environmental pollution, block drainage systems and affect microorganism activity in the soil”.