July 1, 2019 Update: further clarification from ministry officials has been passed down to tour operators stating that “it should be noted that Ziploc bags are not banned, nor garbage bags. Tourists will not be penalized or fined in any way if arriving at a Tanzania entry point with the banned plastic carrier bags—they will simply be required to hand them over. Ziploc-type bags may be imported if the owner does not dispose of it while in Tanzania.”
As of today, June 1st, 2019, plastic bags are officially banned in the country of Tanzania. This means that they will not be for sale, nor will they be given as a storage option at markets, nor will they be allowed to be imported into the country from abroad.
This ban extends all the way to temporary visitors to the country, such as our safari guests, who may arrive in the country with plastic bags in their possession. We are advising all incoming guests to not pack any plastics bags in their luggage pre-departure (this includes all disposable plastic bags, such as grocery bags, Ziploc bags, etc.), and to dispose of any plastic bags picked up during their travels before touching down on Tanzanian soil (and if necessary, leave them on the airplane before disembarking).
From the Tanzanian Embassy to the United States:
All plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness, will be prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied, and used in Mainland Tanzania. The only exceptions to the plastic bag ban will be for plastic or plastic packaging for medical services, industrial products, the construction industry, the agricultural sector, foodstuffs, and sanitary and waste management.
Visitors to Tanzania are also advised to avoid carrying plastic bags in their suitcases or hand luggage, with the exception of the required “Ziploc type” bags specifically used to carry toiletries and other liquids of 100 millilitres or less through airport security screenings. These “Ziploc” bags must remain in the permanent possession of the traveler and not disposed of in Tanzania.
We definitely welcome the plastic bag ban movement, which has been growing in size throughout Africa over the past few years. Despite the obvious convenience factor of plastic bags, the environmental damage that results from them makes it well worth the sacrifice.
In order to clear up some misconceptions and conflicting information posted online, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions below to assist you in packing for your trip:
Our recommendation is to use a different storage medium in lieu of plastic, such as mesh packing cubes or the like. However, if you happen to have a plastic bag with you, please make sure it comes with you on your departing flight—do not dispose of it while in Tanzania.
In practice, we believe that the authorities will be lax, especially at the beginning of the ban, in enforcing any penalties on visitors from abroad accidentally bringing in plastic bags. This ban is primarily meant to discourage shops and importers from using or importing bags. However, in order to avoid potential hassles and delays, we encourage you to keep all plastic bags at home.