The Prime Minister in April 2019 during the parliamentary session issued an announcement that with effect from 1 June 2019 all plastic carrier bags will be banned in Mainland Tanzania. The Prime Minister stated further that the ban is for the purpose of protecting human and animal health as well as the environment.

In order to give the ban legal force, the Environment Management (Prohibition of Plastic Carrier Bags) Regulations 2019 (the “Regulations”) have been published through Government Notice No. 394 of 2019 and which shall come into force with effect from 1 June 2019.

The Regulations provide that all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness are prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and/or used in Mainland Tanzania. Furthermore, it is prohibited to sell or offer for sale beverages or other commodities wrapped in plastic unless the nature of such commodities require plastic wrapping.

However, the Regulations allow for some exemptions, these being plastic packaging for the following purposes:

  1. Food processing – such as plastic wrapping, casing or container prepared in advance to preserve the quality of foodstuff or protect the foodstuff from contamination, and such packaging must have a tamper-proof seal or be labeled to describe the product before sale; for example packaging for milk, cashew nuts and bread products;
  2. Industrial products – such as plastic wrapping, casing or container prepared to preserve the quality of industrial goods or protect them from contamination, and such packaging must have a tamper-proof seal or be labeled to describe the product before sale; for example packaging for mattresses;
  3. Construction industry – such as plastic wrapping, casing or sheets used for handling construction materials or to damp-proof buildings, pipes, cables, tiles, storage tanks, temporary structures, insulation or other related functions; for example cement or plastic waterproof lining for buildings and roofs;
  4. Agricultural sector – such as plastic wrapping, casing or sheets used for mulching, seedlings, greenhouses, reservoir and irrigation systems or crop collection, storage and transportation; for example packaging for fertilizers and seeds;
  5. Medical services – plastic wrapping, casing or container used in the furnishing of medicine, medical or surgical treatments, other nursing or hospital services, dental services, optometric services, or any other similar services whether or not contingent upon sickness; for example blood bags, packaging for syringes and medicines; and
  6. Sanitary and waste management – such as large sized plastic carrier bags solely for collecting and handling of solid waste, with a minimum thickness and size to be prescribed by order of the Minister responsible for Environment.

Take note that the exempted plastic packaging must meet the quality standards prescribed by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.

From our discussions with the Vice President’s Office and Local Government Authorities, we have been made to understand that all banned plastic bags are to be disposed of at the relevant Local Government Authority’s offices of where peoples businesses/residences are, on or before 1 June 2019 in order to avoid penalties. Further, all manufacturers and/or suppliers of products contained in plastic bottles are now required to set-up, operate or participate in a take back system in collecting their respective waste plastic bottles for recycling purposes, and that cost is not to be passed onto the end users by the manufacturers/suppliers.

The Regulations also stipulate various pecuniary and custodial penalties ranging from a fine of not less than Tanzania Shillings twenty million (TZS 20,000,000/=) to Tanzania Shillings thirty thousand (TZS 30,000/=) and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two (2) years to a term not exceeding seven (7) days or to both a pecuniary fine and a custodial sentence depending on the type of infringement/offence.

The enforcement and compliance of the Regulations is vested with the National Environment Management Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the Tanzania Airports Authority, the Police Force, the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority, the Chief Government Chemist Laboratory Agency, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, the Immigration Department and other relevant government organs including Local Government Authorities.

Furthermore, the Vice President’s Office on 16 May 2019 issued an official notice to travelers planning to visit Tanzania. The Notice stipulates that visitors arriving into Mainland Tanzania via airports, seaports or land borders will be required to leave their plastic carrier bags or wrappings which are banned as per the Regulations at the point of entry. All luggage will be searched on entry and any kind of prohibited bags will be taken away. Visitors will not be fined so long as they surrender their plastic bags or wrappings. Ziploc plastic bags that are specifically used to carry toiletries will be permitted but visitors are expected to remain in possession of them for the duration of their trip and such plastic bags should not be disposed within the country.

If you have any questions regarding this legal update, please contact Amish Shah by email on