THE National Environment Management Council (NEMC) has ordered Tanzanians to stop using plastic packaging materials which have not been approved by Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), insisting that doing the opposite attracts a fine of up to 10bn/-.
NEMC Director General, Dr Samuel Gwamaka issued the directives at a joint brief meeting held in Dar es Salaam on Thursday which was the last day of the grace period offered by the government in June 2019 on the ban of use of substandard plastic packaging materials in the country.
During the meeting that was also attended by the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and TBS officers, the NEMC chief said the penalty will be imposed on individuals or entities who do not want to obey the law although it is not the government’s intention to take punish its people.
According to Dr Gwamaka, the rules make it clear that the fine for consumers range from 30,000/- to 500,000/-, while for distributor is 10m/-or imprisonment for between three and seven years.
For major producers, the fine ranges from 5m/- to 10bn/-.
He pointed out that they have nine zones across the country and each region will put in place its own mechanism for conducting operations to arrest those involved in committing the crime.
Dr Gwamaka urged people to obey the law unconditionally to protect the environment for future generations.
“We all know that plastic packaging materials pollute soil, air and water, and affect human’s health, especially when we eat meat of an animal that has consumed the materials,” the director general said.
Dr Gwamaka said most of the packaging materials are imported through unauthorised routes, discouraging traders who carry out genuine business and pay tax.
As a result, he said, domestic producers also secretly began engaging in the process of producing substandard packaging materials.
According to Dr Gwamaka, the manufacturers have assured them of their capacity to produce standard packaging materials, adding that until now enough materials have been produced.
“I have producers here who have shown us different types of packaging materials. So it’s just a matter of wholesalers taking them to retailers. Suppliers should collect the products that are on the market,” he said.
For his part, CTI Board Member Hussein Sufiani reassured the government that there are four to eight factories in the country that are capable of producing packaging materials that meet the required quality and are also capable of recycling industrial waste.
Standards Officer from TBS, Mr Henry Msuya said the guidelines are ready in place for them on packaging materials production and already more than 30 factories in the country have been licensed to produce such materials after meeting the criteria.
The government banned the use of plastic bags in June, 2019 and provided a transitional period until Friday April 9, 2021 to completely eliminate the use of plastic bags and packaging materials that do not meet the required quality.
The time was also set to enable producers plan and produce the required products.