19 April 2006

Tanzania: Industry acts in response to govt ban on plastics

Domestic industry has decided to take a pro-active strategy in reacting to government`s recent ban on plastic bags and packages. Instead of lobbying for temporary clemency, industry is looking for alternative technologies that can produce plastic products which can decay over time.

On the first day of April, the government issued a notice which seeks to ban manufacturing of plastic bags as well as importation of the same below the density of 30 microns. The aim is to protect the environment.

The use of plastic packaging juices has also been interdicted from October this year. Some brands of plastics not outlawed would attract a jumbo 100 percent tariff charge.

In the upshot, a strong artificial demand is expected, particularly in the urban areas.

The Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) is mulling over the situation, and it expects to launch technology that would produce recyclable plastic products.

Dr. Matheo Raphael, Director of the Center for Development and Transfer of Technology said recently that COSTECH plans to organize a meeting with all stakeholders with a view to getting familiarised with the new eco-friendly know-how.

As a biodegradable technology, it would churn out plastic goods that can easily decompose before long, in turn becoming a catalyst for fertilising the soil.

Dr. Raphael said with the new technology, the raw materials for making plastic products would come from starch, plants, leaves and other related materials by mixing with other chemicals.

The adaptability of the technology would help the current plastic manufacturers comply with the government insistence on the use of “green wraps” by shoppers and producers of goods of mass consumption.

“It is very cheap to use biodegradable technology rather than what we are now doing”, he said, adding that it is rational to incur lofty expenses at once for importing and commissioning the technology sooner than spending continuously on protecting the environment.

The biodegradable technology is said to be cost and labour effective once implemented.

The technology is now a common place used in America, Canada, and Italy.

Statistics show that every Tanzanian uses a minimum of a single kg of plastic material every year. However, Sylivia Mng’anya, Secretary of the Agenda for Environmental and Responsible Development, was recently quoted saying that the whole Dar population was careless about the disposal of plastic and polythene material.

The uncontrolled uses of plastic material, which are irresponsibly thrown away, contribute greatly in dirtying the environment.

Currently, big cities like Dar, Mwanza and Arusha and other cities are facing serious problem on the fight against proliferation of plastic wastes.

However the recycling of plastic done by some of the industries in the e country has helped much to protect the environment.

Baraka Ladwa, Director for Morogoro plastic Processing Industry based in Morogoro was recently quoted as telling the Ministry of state Vice President office, Professor Mark Mwandosya that his factory gets an average of 4 to 8 tonnes of discarded plastics and synthetics bags daily while it has capability of recycling 4 tones per day.

However recycling program has helped to reduce the importation of plastic products, Government needs to protect environment pollution caused by the same products and to reduce unnecessary expenditure.

To initiate this the massive education campaign is needed to sensitize and bring public education on the advantage and abandon the use of plastic products.

Basing on the current statistic it is only 50% of the waste plastic products recycled leaving another 50% not recycled.

This is an indication that there is a lot of environment pollution done by such wastes.

Meanwhile the Commission for Science and Technology COSTECH is planning to conduct the meeting with all stake holders who are engaging in the production of plastic products.

Spot survey by this paper shows that empty plastic bottles as well as polythene papers are usually littered all over the towns across the country, the materials are inorganic, they can not decompose if deposited in the soil hence affecting adversely its fertility.

These inorganic materials cause environment pollution, block drainage system and limit air to pass through the soil and hence affect microorganisms’ activities in the soil.

Plastic wastes also cause flooding and over flowing sewerage as it competes for a lot of space for their disposal.

Recently, Vice President Dr, Mohamed Shein banned the manufacturing, importation, selling and buying of plastic bags, Bottles and polythne papers with 30 micros or 0.03 ml which used for packing water and fruits having microns 65 or 0.065 mm to end in October these years.

Dr. Shein also raised tariff to 100 percent for imported plastic product microns 30 or 0.03 mm.

This decision aims to reduce the pollution of the environment caused by waste plastic materials that are not decomposed and to reduce high expenditure that used by the government to protect environment pollution.

(Cf. news of April 05, 2006.)

Source: IPPmedia, April 19, 2006.

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