Tanzanian lawmakers said they are cracking down on the manufacturing of plastic bags in the country, two years after the government banned their use. Officials citing environmental concerns and the law that made plastic bags illegal in 2013 have told authorities to take action against manufacturers of plastic bags as well as the people importing them, AllAfrica reported.
"The government through [National Environment Management Council] continues to conduct inspections, in manufacturing industries, companies and shops manufacturing and distributing the plastic bags to ensure they follow the law,” Deputy Minister Stephen Masele told parliament on Tuesday, according to AllAfrica. Masele said the bags not only posed a threat to the environment, but could also have health risks as some of the chemicals used in their production could cause cancer, especially when the bags are used to store hot food. Tanzania banned the manufacturing and use of most plastic bags in August 2013.
A number of countries have outlawed certain kinds of plastic bags, especially those that are thinner and can easily blow away in the wind, accumulating in the environment. Officials have said the bags often clog drainage systems and damage soil because they are non-biodegradable.
Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags in 2002 because they exacerbated flooding, according to the Surfrider Foundation. China, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa are among the countries that have banned non-biodegradable plastic bags. Italy became the first European country to do so in 2012. Other countries have begun charging shoppers a small fee for every plastic bag they use.
Despite Tanzania’s law against plastic bags, the products have continued to be sold and used in grocery stores and supermarkets. Some have described the law as “toothless.”