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Tanzania – Plastic Bags Prohibition Regulations Issued

Details of the much awaited regulations concerning the out right ban of plastic bags have been issued on 17 May 2019, vide GN No 394 of 2019. The Environmental Management (Prohibition of Plastic Carrier Bags) Regulations, 2019 (Regulations) are meant to impose a total ban on the import, export, manufacturing, sale, and use of plastic carrier bags regardless of their thickness. Plastic carrier bags has a wide definition in the Regulations, as a bag made of plastic film, with or without handles, or gussets and to which its layer is in any thickness.
The Regulations also categorically state that no person shall sell or offer for sale beverages or other commodities wrapped in plastics* unless the nature of such commodities require wrappings by plastics, and restricts any licensing authority from issuing any licences after the Regulations come into force.
A person who imports, exports, manufactures, sells, stores, distributes, supplies, possesses and uses plastic bags** and plastic wrappings*** in contravention of the Regulations commits an offence and shall, upon conviction be liable, in case of:

(a) manufacturing or importation, to a fine of between TZS 20M up to TZS 1B, or up to 2 years imprisonment, or both
(b) exportation, to a fine of between TZS 5M up to TZS 20M, or up to 2 years imprisonment, or both
(c) storing, supplying and distributing to a fine of between TZS 5M up to TZS 50M, or up to 2 years imprisonment, or both
(d) selling, between TZS 100,000 up to TZS 500,000, or up to 3 months imprisonment, or both
(e) possessing and using to a fine of between TZS 30,000 up to TZS 200,000, or up to 7 days imprisonment, or both


The Regulations provides exemptions for plastic or plastic packaging for medical services(1) or industrial products(2) or construction industry(3) or agricultural sector(4) or food processing(5) or sanitary and waste management(6).

Hence large size carrier bags for collecting garbage that are commonly used are exempted including plastic wrapping used in medicine, industrial products, construction material and seeds which are also exempt. However plastic wrapping on clothes, books, perfumes, stationary are all now strictly prohibited.


These Regulations will be enforced by the National Environment Management Council in collaboration with the Ministry responsible for trade and industry, Tanzania Revenue Authority, Tanzania Ports Authority, Tanzania Airports Authority, Police Force, Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority, Chief Government Chemist Laboratory Agency, Tanzania Bureau of Standards, Immigration Department and such other relevant government organs.

General Provisions

The Regulations further provide that any imported consignment of plastic carrier bags found at any entry point shall be repatriated to the country of export at the cost of the importer.

Further, all 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 no additional price is to be charged for this service.

The Regulations provide for compoundment of any offence for a person who shows willingness to pay the sum of money as penalty for contravening the Regulations. This means that any person willing to pay the penalty will not be imprisoned.

Under the Regulations, any person aggrieved by any decision under the Regulations can appeal to the Minister of State, VPs Office (Union Affairs and Environment) within 30 days, and if still aggrieved appeal to the Environmental Appeals Tribunal. The publication of the Regulations revokes the Environmental Management (Control of Plastic Bags) Regulations, 2015.
*plastic is not defined (plastic carrier bags is however defined) but will likely be widely interpreted
** plastic bags not defined but will likely be widely interpreted
*** plastic wrappings not defined but will likely be widely interpreted

  1. “plastic packaging for medical services” means plastic wrapping or casing or container used in the furnishing of medicine or medical or surgical treatment or nursing or hospital services or dental services or optometrical services; or complementary health services; or any other necessary services of like character whether or not contingent upon sickness
  2. “plastic packaging for industrial products” means plastic wrapping or casing or container prepared in advance, to preserve quality of industrial goods or protect from contamination with other goods or extraneous matter, with a tamper proof seal or labeled to describe the product before sale or distribution or offer
  3. “plastic packaging for construction industry” means plastic wrapping, casing or sheets used for handling construction materials or damp-proof in buildings or pipes or cables or tiles or storage tanks or temporary structures or insulation or any other related functions
  4. “plastic packaging for agricultural sector” means plastic wrapping or casing or sheets used for mulching or seedling or greenhouse or reservoir and irrigation system or crop collection, storage and transportation
  5. “plastic packaging for food processing” means plastic wrapping or casing or container prepared in advance to preserve quality of foodstuff or protect foodstuff from contamination with other goods or extraneous matter, with a tamper proof seal or labeled to describe the product before sale or distribution or offer
  6. “plastic packaging for sanitary and waste management” means large sized plastic carrier bag solely for collecting and handling of solid waste, with a minimum thickness and size to be prescribed by order of the Minister

To read full Regulations, click here.

Article compiled by Tanzanian member firm FB Attorneys


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