THE government has issued a three- month ultimatum for retailers and manufacturers to freeze reproducing and using single and double-useplastic bags that were prohibited nearly two years ago.
Authorities enacted a law in June 2019, criminalising production, sell and use of plastic bags as part of an effort to tackle environmental pollution in the country.
Apparently, Minister in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment) Ummy Mwalimu noted with concern that retailers and manufacturers are increasingly reproducing the prohibited bags, thus jeopardising efforts to conserve the environment.
The plastic bags such as tubing which the National Bureau of Standards (TBS) disqualified for not meeting state requirements are being reproduced in different volume, size and style.
“Such bags are almost everywhere across the country, pushing back the efforts registered by the government in protecting the environment,” she said.
The Minister said the bags approved by authorities include a single-use plastic bag with 30 microns’ layer and 60 microns’ layer for double-use plastic bags.
The bags also must contain a seal, as well as details of a producing company and TBS certification.
“The manufacturers and retailers have three months to phase out all unqualified bags,” she said.
According to the minister, the decision is in favour of small-scale entrepreneurs who might have large cargo in their stores.
“The government will not issue another statement after the grace period,” she added, noting that the countrywide crackdown will be commissioned.
The decision by the government is part of the region’s plan to phase out plastic bags.
Countries such as Kenya and Rwanda in East Africa are also implementing the plan to phase out all non-biodegradable plastics.
The 2019 legislation imposes a two-year prison sentence or a fine of up to 400,000 US dollars. An Individual found carrying a plastic bag can be subject to an on-the-spot fine of 30,000/-.