Plastic Bags in Tanzania, Acts and Regulations

On 01 June 2019 plastic bags in Tanzania was officially banned.

While to some it was considered harsh, many citizens and non-citizens were happy to see this long-delayed act coming into action finally.

Muguruki, for example, was very excited with the Tanzania plastic bags ban news. Here is what he had to say;

Brilliant news, I remember last time I was there and looking out of a bus window at the embankment at the side of the road which was made up of a mixture of mud and discarded carrier bags! I will be leaving for TZ in two weeks, before the ban but I’ll see what alternatives I can take anyway. I’m also big on zip-lock bags of various sizes. Wish this would happen in the UK.

Muguruki; Source: TripAdvisor

Elsewhere, others stressed their disgrace with the decision to ban the Plastic bags in Tanzania.

The ban is only going to hurt us small entrepreneurs and the consumers….most of the goods we sell need to be carried in simple plastic bags which we usually give free to our customers. But now we won’t afford to give the newly introduced bags to the customers.

Mgosi, an Earthlife Expeditions neighbour

Either way, the ban was enacted as soon as 1st of June and most citizens responded well with the new circle of Tanzania without plastic bags.

More than 7 months now since the implementation of the act on banning plastic bags in Tanzania, here is all you need to know about the act and why you should care;

When the ban did become active?

At first, the ban was planned to become active as early as 1st of January 2019, only to be pushed forward to the 1st of June 2019

Why the Government did ban plastic bags in Tanzania?

Well, the efforts to eliminate plastic bags is becoming unstoppable all over the world, in the US for example, eight states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont—have banned single-use plastic bags.

The main motive of the plastic bags ban is environmental protection

According to Greener Ideal

Plastic bags cause several different types of harm, but three of the most troubling problems they present include the following:

  • Wildlife Harm
  • Clogged Sewage Systems
  • Aesthetic Deterioration

Upon surgical examination, many of the cows injured by this plastic plague are found to have 50 or more plastic bags in their digestive tracts.

Source; Greener Ideal’s How Do Plastic Bags Affect Our Environment?

It is also understood that plastic bags do not get decayed before up to 500 million years bringing long-term negative impacts in both oceans and land.

Are there any exceptions?


Under the government’s ban, there are several instances where it’s OK for a store to hand out a plastic bag, including when a bag holds:

  • Uncooked meat, fish or poultry;
  • Bulk items;
  • Sliced or prepared foods;
  • A newspaper for delivery; or
  • Prescription drugs.

Nevertheless, the allowed plastic bags in Tanzania must comply with the standards set by Tanzania Bureau of Standard (TBS).

What to do if you still have plastic bags

Well, if you appear to have a stock, the best solution is to submit it to the local government.

Every local government has a special area to put plastic bags before further process. To know these areas you should consult the local government of your residence.

Will I get fined using plastic bags?


Here are the fines categories; (in US dollars)

  • Plastic bags import fine is about $8687
  • Plastic bags export fine nearly $8687
  • Manufacture, storage and distribution of the plastic bags is $4344
  • Selling plastic bags will be fined up to $5
  • Using plastic bags will let you fined at least $15

Now that plastic bags are banned in Tanzania, what are the alternatives?

There’s plenty of them;

  • Paper bags
  • Clothed/other durable materials bags
  • Baskets
  • Other reusable bags

For those interested in investing on reusable bags manufacturing

As plastic bags are gone now in Tanzania, the opportunity arises on manufacturing reusable bags or any other alternatives to the plastic bags in Tanzania.

In case you’re interested on this kind of investment, here are the organizations that are willing to give you the needed information;

  • Tanzania Investment Centre
  • National Environment Management Council (NEMC)
  • Tanzania Bureau of Standards
  • SIDO | Small Industries Development Organization
  • Financial institutions

I am just a tourist, Should I even Care?

Well, you should my friend

Quoting DW;

The government has also warned tourists to “surrender” any plastic bags before entering the country, which is home to popular attractions such as Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti.

Source; DW

Tanzania plastic bags ban act didn’t forget tourists. And as early as 1st of June 2019 travellers to Tanzania were no longer allowed to bring plastic carrier bags into the country.

To manage this, check-in areas at the country’s entry points were set specifically to collect every plastic bag that is being brought in to Tanzania.

Has the Ban been implemented so far?

I think it’s right to say the plastic bags ban has been implemented to at least 80%

You’ll rarely find the plastic bags carried around in the streets. People in Tanzania has adopted well into this new plastic-less era and they seem to have moved on with a normal life.

Muguruki for example, one of the prominent contributors in TripAdvisor had the following observation

I was in TZ when the bag ban came into place and was rather impressed with how everyone was obeying the new ruling. In 3 weeks I saw one person carrying a plastic bag on June 2nd and another behind a bar that the bar owner kept her cigarettes for sale in and that was it. Loads of altenatives for sale in Dar. Good to see in markets things like peanuts, mansdazi and chapati all being rolled up in newspaper!

About time they brought in the ban in the UK.

Source: Muguruki, TripAdvisor


You’ll be shocked to know that only 9% of the nine billion tons of plastic the world has ever produced has been recycled.

Yes, that is well according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Whether it is due to the ban or not, environmental conservation should be our main concern.

Plastic bags in Tanzania are dangerous even in tourism. explains this better below;

“There isn’t much of a debate about the aesthetic impact plastic bags have on the environment.

The vast majority of people would agree that plastic bags usually ruin the general scenery. And this is in every imaginable habitat, from forests and fields to deserts and wetlands.”

Having said so, I’d like to remind you that Tanzania safari is beautiful and amazing

You should never trade Tanzania safari experience for anything, not even these little details like of plastic bags.

It is of excessive important that make sure that you have everything right to prior to starting your Tanzania safari.

At Earthlife, we wish you nothing but the very best Tanzania safari experience.

Don’t forget to read these 19 things you need to know about Tanzania Visa.