Like Kenya, Rwanda has banned all carry bags regardless of thickness, doing away with the "plastic thickness game. Also" Rwanda became the first nation in Africa to completely outlaw single-use plastic bags in October 2019.
Tanzania has done likewise. All plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness, are prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied, and used in Mainland Tanzania, according to the Environmental Management (Prohibition of Plastic Carrier Bags) Regulations, 2019.
Plastic packaging used for medical services, industrial items, the building industry, or the agricultural sector, among others, is exempt from these rules. East African nations Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda have teamed up to battle plastic pollution. Through an initiative called the Single-Use Plastic Free East African Community, several nations have joined forces to combat plastic pollution.
A collaboration of four organizations, including the Centre for Environment Justice and Development, Global Initiative for Environment and Reconciliation, Bio Vision Africa, and NipeFagio, launched the #SUPfreeEAC (Single-Use Plastic Free East African Community) campaign.
A non-profit organization in Tanzania called NipeFagio has gathered a lot of information about plastic pollution, primarily through primary data. In addition to plastic carry bags, it has been discovered that food wrappers are another single-use plastic item that could provide a concern in the future. When the ban went into effect in 2019, there was a significant decrease in the volume of plastic sold on the Tanzanian market.
Plastic carry bags were virtually nonexistent on the market in 2020. The carry bags, however, started to resurface in 2021. These bags were made illegally in-country and imported. This serves as another evidence that the struggle against plastic pollution does not end with the notification of a ban.
The actual issue is in enforcing the prohibition; additionally, the enforcement procedure must be stringent and ongoing to guarantee that the prohibited commodities are not produced in the nation or imported in any other way.
India should learn a few things from these east African nations who have announced a severe ban on plastic carry bags and are working hard to enforce it, even though there have been some snags.
From July 1, 2022, India will no longer produce, sell, or use certain single-use plastic products such plates, cups, straws, trays, and polystyrene. The plastic carry bag is one of the single-use plastic goods that is listed among them.
Carry bags are "bags constructed from plastic material or compostable plastic material, intended to carry or dispense commodities which have a self-carrying characteristic," according to the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 call for plastic manufacturers to switch from a 40-micron thickness (prescribed by Plastic Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011) to a 50-micron thickness. The most recent revision mandated a higher thickness of 75 microns and banned plastic bags that were 50 microns thick.
According to the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, the plastic bag's thickness will be further reduced to 120 microns as of January 1, 2023. The decision to thicken the material was made in anticipation of carry bags becoming valuable enough to be collected from streets and landfills. The majority of our plastic waste is directed to formal and unofficial recycling facilities by a team of trash collectors. However, the problem might not be resolved by increasing the thickness from 40 microns. Additionally, the informal workforce is unlikely to spend their time collecting plastic debris that is both low value and high volume.
This means that despite the assumption of the ban being strictly implemented, even in the best case scenario we will still have to live with the sight of plastic carry bags in every nook and cranny of our towns.
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