Plastic bag ban imminent

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The Environment Forest and Climate Change Commission is taking steps to completely ban the production and import of single use plastic bags in an attempt to protect the environment.
It is preparing legislation which will be enacted after ratification by the House of Peoples Representatives (HPR) in the near future.
Plastic bags used for selling, packing, and disposing garbage are made of polythene, a plastic that affects terrestrial as well as aquatic animals, and plants. According to the Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Commission, most countries had banned the production of the plastic bags, whereas, some of them have tried their best to recycle the plastic materials.
In Africa alone, countries like South Africa, Botswana, Egypt, Eritrea, Uganda, and Tanzania have banned either producing or importing of plastic bags. This is mainly because of the easy accessibility, comfort to handle, and cheap price of the bags.
In Proclamation No. 513/1999, Ethiopia bans either producing or importing of easily decomposable plastic bags with thickness of less than 0.03mm or any indecomposable plastic bag. However, both indecomposable and decomposable plastic bags with less than the mentioned thickness have been found almost everywhere in the country.
In a recent study by the Addis Ababa Trade and Industry Bureau, 12 plastic bag producers were producing thin plastic under 0.03 millimeters.
Plastic bags release pollutant chemicals to the surrounding areas where pollutants are dissolved in the underground water and affect the lives of the people and animals that use it. When these bags decompose, they produce methane, a greenhouse gas.
“Banning production and use of these plastic bags is not a choice rather a must to do action for environmental protection authority adding that the commission is planning to ban the production and use of environmentally hazardous plastic substances,” Girma Gemechu, Solid and Hazardous Waste Compliance Monitoring Director, says.
The Authority suggests the use of bags made of paper, leather, and clothes as options once the plastic bags are banned.
According to the study made by Mulu Solomon, Plastic bags are largely used for shopping in Ethiopia with an estimated yearly local production of 10,000 tones apart from the importation. At least 2 million plastic bags are handed out every month.
A lack of proper waste management and collection mechanism is the main problem of using plastic bags in Ethiopia.
“Once it is legislated, the authority says it will follow up the strict implementation of the law. Till then, the public will continue to live with the hazards of plastic bags”, adds the director.
According to Conservation Now, each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide.