07/09/2019
plastic shopping bags

Hunters traveling to Tanzania should refrain from taking any plastic bags in their luggage or carry-ons. Starting June 1, 2019, plastic “carrier bags” (grocery-style bags) have been banned from the country.

According to a May 16, 2019 press release issued by the Republic of Tanzania’s Office of the Vice President, “…all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness will be prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in Mainland Tanzania.”

The release goes on to warn that a “special desk” will be designated at all entry ports where visitors will need to surrender any plastic bags. Upon arrival at a port of entry, visitors should expect to have luggage inspected. Keep in mind that this could mean some delays in clearing customs into the country and making any travel connections.

The ban does not include plastic packaging for medical products, foodstuffs, or “Ziploc” type bags used for toiletries. These types of plastic products are expected to remain in the possession of visitors and “are not expected to be disposed in the country.”

Safari Times learned of the plastic bag ban from Michael Angelides, Secretary of the Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (TAHOA), who forwarded the press release to SCI headquarters. Despite the exceptions above, Angelides says hunters may wish to leave all disposable plastic packaging at home and use only clear plastic toiletry bags (the reusable, durable kind) for toiletries, liquids, medicines, etc. 

The reason for the ban on disposable plastic bags is that the Tanzanian government wishes to protect the environment and keep the country “clean and beautiful.” Indeed, litter and improper disposal of plastics has become increasingly problematic around the globe, with plastic carrier bags making up a great percentage of this non-decomposing refuse. Studies estimate that one trillion plastic bags are used and disposed of each year. Plastics are now considered the top pollution problem in oceans and waterways.

Tanzania is not alone in banning carrier bags to reduce plastic garbage. A whole movement has developed in response to the problems caused by plastic refuse. A simple Google search produces a plethora of information on the financial costs and challenges of dealing with massive volumes of plastic garbage. Numerous states and cities in the US have either banned or attempted to ban these bags (including: Detroit, New York City, Seattle, California, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon). The Australian state of South Australia and its Northern Territory successfully banned plastic bags, and other overseas destinations are in the process of doing so.

Hunters buying any duty-free items en route to Tanzania should make sure they dispose of the bag and plastic wrapping prior to entry into Tanzania to avoid any issues. Better yet, decline the plastic bag at time of purchase and put the items in your carryon.--Barbara Crown

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