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Ban-Plastic-Bag Club. 2003: South Africa; 2006-07: Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda; 2011: Italy, and many cities globally


By WcP.Watchful.Eye - Posted on 15 January 2011

Are You Ready to Ban Plastic Bags?

6 countries in Africa - Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Togo and South Africa - and 1 in Europe - Italy - have banned  plastic bags

plastic addition: health and environmental menance

crow eating a plastic bag; inset: New Yorkers carrying home their dry cleaning draped in plastic bags

City Council: Stores Should Recycle Plastic Bags

Plastic Bags - an Inconvenient Convenience

(quote)

Data released by the US Environmental Protection Agency show that between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year (National Geographic News; Sept 2, 2003). While many argue that the plastic bags in use today are recyclable, consider this fact: worldwide, less than 1% of bags are recycled. Also, a study way back in 1975 revealed that ocean-going vessels dumped almost 3.6 million kilograms of plastic annually. Worse still, most of which were thrown out and ended up clogging drains, choking wildlife, floating in the sea north of the Arctic circle and as far away as the Falkland Islands. Bangladesh, China, Singapore, Rwanda and the European Union have taken initiatives to ban FREE plastic bags while some nations states or cities to eliminate the usage of plastic bags at all.

Why Are Plastic Bags a Menace? Plastic bags are a ubiquitous symbol of western society. Over 60,000 plastic bags are used in the United States every five seconds. The United States consumes an astounding 100 billion plastic bags each year, and uses 12 million barrels of oil to make them. Weaning ourselves off of plastic bags also reduces our dependence on dirty fossil fuels and furthers the transition to a clean energy future. What happens to those bags when we're through with them? Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled, and many bags don't reach the landfill. Instead they become plastic tumbleweeds that clog our streets, our trails, and our oceans. Think about the future generation: rid of “health and environmental menace”.

The multi-colored, thin, flimsy plastic bags were outlawed in South Africa in 2003: Retailers handing out the bags now face a fine of 100,000 rand ($13,800) or a 10-year jail sentence

Known at one time as the county’s “national flower” because of the fact that they were stuck to almost every surface, the multi-colored, thin, flimsy plastic bags were outlawed in South Africa in 2003. They were seen on every fence, in every gutter in every drain – blowing in the wind – killing and maiming animals and birds, blocking drains and polluting the environment.

Retailers handing out the bags now face a fine of 100,000 rand ($13,800) or a 10-year jail sentence. The legislation means shoppers would either have to take bags with them when they go shopping, or buy new, thick, stronger plastic bags that are easier and more profitable to recycle. Now consumers can buy the thicker plastic bags at check-outs if they haven’t brought their own along. The streets are certainly much cleaner and shoppers have learned to bring their own cloth bags or to re-use the thicker plastic bags that are for sale at check-outs.

[The Telegraph] 04 Apr 2006 - Tanzania to ban all plastic bags: Importing, selling or using plastic bags and drinks containers is to be outlawed in Tanzania in a move aimed at curbing environmental damage. Manufacturers and retailers have six months to phase out the harmful polythene - which takes up to 1,000 years to degrade - and switch to recyclable materials or biodegradable alternatives. The announcement, from Tanzania's vice-president, Ali Mohamed Shein, marks the first time an African country has banned all plastic bags outright.

South Africa introduced laws in May 2003 forcing shopkeepers to hand out thicker, stronger plastic bags that are more easily re-used or face an £8,000 fine or 10 years in jail.

The country's environmental authorities estimated that eight billion bags a year were being used, most of which were thrown out and ended up clogging drains and choking wildlife.

[BBC] 10 November 2006 - Zanzibar's ban on the import and production of plastic bags has come into effect. It is estimated more than 200 tonnes of bags pass through Zanzibar's port every month destined for local and regional markets. "We have to put the environment above everything," Zanzibar's Director of Environment Ali Juma said. The government, which approved the law in July, has suggested the use of raffia bags as an alternative.

Jail sentence - Our correspondent says the archipelago's streets are littered with rubbish as municipal authorities are only able to collect about a third of the waste produced daily. "We have to put the environment above everything," Zanzibar's Director of Environment Ali Juma said. "Besides being an eyesore, plastic bags are very damaging to land and marine life and we are already threatened by the rapid pace of development." He said that anyone violating the ban risked a jail sentence of up to six months or a fine of $2,000 or both punishments. Some people are worried about the loss of tax revenue to the islands.

It is estimated more than 200 tonnes of bags pass through Zanzibar's port every month destined for local and regional markets. "While it is environmentally sound to ban the plastic bags, the government is going to lose $400,000 per month as revenue for bags on transit and destined for the local market," businessman Salim Turky told Reuters news agency.

Rwanda has also banned the use of plastic bags for environmental reasons.

2007 - East African Ban on Plastic Bags: Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Rwanda ban plastic bags. In 2004, thousands of people were encouraged to take the day off work to help pick up some of the plastic bags which littered the country. Shops have been banned from giving plastic bags to their customers and police are reportedly stopping plastic-bag users in the street

Kenya and Tanzania ban plastic bags - Ugandan Finance Minister Ezra Suruma has recently banned the importation and use of the thinnest bags and imposed a 120% tax on thicker ones in his new budget. The Kenyan finance minister imposed similar restrictions in his latest budget, following Rwanda and Tanzania.

Tanzania set the pace for the East African Community in 2006, when Vice-President Ali Mohamed Shein announced a total ban on plastic bags and ordered a switch to recyclable materials or biodegradable alternatives. "These measures are expected to encourage the industry players to devise environmentally friendlier and hopefully recyclable bags," Kenyan Finance Minister Amos Kimunya announced in the capital, Nairobi.

Zanzibar bans plastic bags - Zanzibar banned the bags in 2006 saying discarded bags damage the marine environment and hurt its crucial tourism industry. The government suggested the use of raffia bags as an alternative.

"We have to put the environment above everything," Zanzibar's Director of Environment Ali Juma said. “Besides being an eyesore, plastic bags are very damaging to land and marine life and we are already threatened by the rapid pace of development.”

He said that anyone violating the ban risked a jail sentence of up to six months or a fine of $2,000 or both punishments.

But the other side of the coin is the matter of lost revenue, because while it is environmentally advantageous to ban the plastic bags, the Zanzibar government is set to lose $400,000 per month on bags destined for the local market, businessman Salim Turky explained.

Rwanda bans plastic bags - Earlier last year Rwanda cracked down on the use of plastic bags by shoppers. Environment Minister, Drocella Mugorewera said that anyone using plastic bags was breaking a recent law on environmental protection aimed at cleaning up cities. She said that people must use paper bags or baskets instead. Theoretically the idea is great but locals are experiencing problems - some market traders complain that products such as fish and meat cannot be carried in paper bags and that paper bags are up to five times more expensive than plastic ones.

In 2004, thousands of people were encouraged to take the day off work to help pick up some of the plastic bags which littered the country. Shops have been banned from giving plastic bags to their customers and police are reportedly stopping plastic-bag users in the street.

2011 - Italy to ban plastic bags in New Year: Italy is a nation known as much for its food as for the ubiquitous plastic bag, given out freely with every purchase around the country and often left to litter streets or landfills. A new ban coming into effect January 1, however, may change that. Italy is banning plastic bags from shops on January 1: every Italian uses on average 300 plastic bags a year. The Italian Environment Ministry is banning shopkeepers from handing out plastic bags in order to help the environment. Even though the January 1 date is firm, the ministry says shopkeepers will be allowed to use up their existing stock of plastic bags without penalties.

Jan 6, 2011. Kenya bans plastic bags, outlawed the manufacture and import of plastic bags for damaging the environment: 'we are telling Kenyans that we need these changes'. Of all five members of the East African Community -- Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda -- only Rwanda has so far successfully banned all plastic bags since 2008, and replaced them with paper bags. the acting NEMA agency chief Ayub Macharia said, "our country has many colours and when God was creating the world, he only allowed plants to give us flowers, so when our landscape becomes flooded with many artificial flowers of varied colours due to poor management of plastic bags and wrappers, then it becomes a problem."

The Kenya Bureau of Standards has been tasked with overseeing the change "through factory inspection and ports of entry surveillance and monitoring." A 2007 attempt at cleaning up the country by banning the manufacture and import of bags of up to 0.03 millimetres (30 microns) widely failed.

Kenya moves to get rid of filthy plastic “ flowers” numerous challenges faced by the government especially on waste management which has become a nightmare as a result of use of plastic bags. Many reports and research done on the impact of plastic bags to the environment have shown how their use has continued to cause more harm than good. Calls have been made also to get rid of these bags to rid Kenya of growing health and environmental menace. What would a polythene bag worth less than five shillings cost Kenya’s environment? This is probably the ever disturbing question most Kenyans would ask anytime calls to ban use of plastic bags are made. Oblivious of the harm such bags cause to the environment, traders countrywide have preferred them and have made no efforts to encourage other means of packaging bought items. The Kenya National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is now seeking to stop the use of plastic bags once and for all, citing numerous challenges the government has faced especially on waste management which has become a nightmare as a result of use of plastic bags.

Notably, Supermarkets alone hand out nearly 100 million plastic bags in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi , home to over 3 million people where only 25 percent of the 1,500 tons of solid waste generated daily is collected, according to a United Nations Environment Program study. The bags, many of which are so thin that they are simply thrown away after one trip from the stores, have become a familiar eyesore in both urban and countryside areas raising a lot of concern.

Italy Bans Plastic Bags - Effective Jan. I, Italy allows stores to offer only biodegradable, cloth or paper bags. It has one of the highest rates of bag consumption in Europe. The environmental group Legambiente estimates Italians use an average of about 300 plastic bags a year. "It (the ban) is a great innovation," said Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo, CNN reports. It "marks a step forward of fundamental importance in the fight against pollution, making us all more responsible for using and recycling." She indicated shopkeepers will be allowed to use up existing plastic bags without penalties.

Togo on Wednesday said it will outlaw the import and sale of plastic bags from July in order to protect the environment. "These bags have become truly disastrous for the environment...The public must know that a plastic bag is not biodegradable and that they need at least 400 years to decompose," said trade ministry official Mohamed Saad Sama. Importers of plastic bags were given a six-month deadline and manufacturers nine months, he told national television. More than three billion plastic bags are used every year by Lome residents, according to estimates by green group Pour un Avenir Ensoleille (For a Sunny Future)."

Kenya last week declared a similar ban, renewing an earlier pledge that had failed in 2007.

Of all five members of the East African Community -- Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda -- only Rwanda has so far successfully banned all plastic bags since 2008, and replaced them with paper bags.

Italy, among the top consumers of plastic bags in Europe, began banning them from shops and supermarkets beginning January 1, a move widely welcomed by environmentalists.

Italy Dumps Plastic Bags with Europe's First Nationwide Ban. Of the more than 8,000 municipalities in Italy, around 200 already has plastic bag bans. Stores in Italy, which uses 20 billion bags a year (one-fifth of all European use), will be able to give out their remaining plastic bags, but once they're gone, they can only offer paper, biodegradable plastic or cloth bags.

Of the more than 8,000 municipalities in Italy, around 200 already has plastic bag bans.

BBC 7 August, 2003: Picnickers in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh could soon have a shock if they carry their lunch in a polythene bag Under a new law, anyone found even using a polythene bag could face up to seven years behind bars or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees ($2,000). Politicians in the picturesque Himalayan state, a popular tourist destination, say polythene pollution is a major problem. "We have directed all our officials to enforce the new law strictly," State Environment Minister JP Negi told the BBC. "Polythene pollution is not just an ugly sight in the hills, it has seriously damaged the environment by choking the soil."

Total ban - And it's not just how the bags are disposed of that's bothering the state authorities. The new law bans the production, storage, use, sale and distribution of polythene bags. The law is based on legislation passed by the national parliament, but Himachal Pradesh is the first state to have implemented it. How successfully the law is actually enforced remains to be seen.

In May, the South African Government banned the use of thin plastic bags, threatening a 10-year jail sentence for offenders. And in Ireland a tax on plastic shopping bags has significantly reduced their use.

2010. Los Angeles County (pop. 1.1 million) bans plastic bags: "No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag"

2011. Plastic bag ban begins on Kauai and Maui. Stores that don't comply face a $500 a day fine. It's all to avoid plastic bags littering the environment. At the Big Save Supermarket in Kapa'a, Kauai it's out with plastic bags and in with paper sacks. "We just started the paper bags today, so far so good, I didn't hear anything bad yet," said Marycel Garcia, Big Save Supermarket Assistant Manager. "It's a great day today. I got one of the first bags from Big Save, I think it's a great idea, plastic, it's going to do us all in," said Cecil G, shopper. Some stores on Maui are not following the law yet. We're told the Kmart and Ross Dress for Less in Kahului are still using plastic bags. Stores that don't comply face a $500 a day fine. It's all to avoid plastic bags littering the environment. "We have some pristine trails where plastic bags were found once we allow these to get out in the wild who knows where they'll wind up," said Robert Harris, Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter.

South Padre Island, Texas, votes to ban plastic bagse. “We have a duty to protect our natural environment and I believe residents as well as our many visitors expect us to take the steps necessary to do so.” South Padre Island will soon become the second city in Texas and 16th area in the United States to ban single-use plastic carryout bags. The town’s city council voted unanimously Jan. 5 to ban plastic bags, first on a voluntary basis, starting Feb. 1, and then on a mandatory basis Jan. 1, 2012. The ban would become law if council approves the measure again at its second vote, scheduled for Jan. 19. “We are partnering up with our businesses to reduce the negative impact plastic bags have on our beautiful South Padre Island and Laguna Madre Area,” said Victor Baldovinos, director of environmental health for South Padre Island, in a statement issued by the city.

A de facto ban on single-use plastic carryout bags went into effect Jan. 5 in Brownsville, Texas. Stores will no longer be able to purchase plastic bags to hand out to customers, but will be able to sell their existing stock of plastic bags, at a price of $1.99, until those supplies are depleted.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia, dikelantan.com, greenworld365.com, plasticbag.24bags.com, Michelle Zurawski, Suzanne DeChillo / The New York Times, dogseat / Flickr, and Healthy Wednesday Club

They do good job for it

Whenever I hear about a "ban on plastic bags" I think that the store is no longer offering bags and that folks will have to bring or buy their own reusable bag. it never occurred to me don't know why that stores that do not offer plastic bags are reverting to offering paper ones. I know it's convenient to get a bag when I forget to bring my own, but if bags were never available, you bet we'd all remember to always have one on us!
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