Tanzania is set to introduce a total ban on the manufacture and use of plastic bags, amending its 2006 ban on plastic bags of a thickness between 30 and 65 microns, which has proved difficult to enforce.

The proposed ruling will outlaw the manufacture, importation, sale or use of plastic bags in Tanzania, and those caught breaking the law would face significant fines and jail sentences. The ministry for the environment blamed plastic bags for blocking drainage systems as well as contributing to the spread of diseases such as malaria.

Environment experts estimate that eight billion plastic bags, which can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, are being used annually in Tanzania.

In 2008 a total ban on plastic bags was introduced in neighbouring Rwanda with reports of visitors having plastic bags confiscated at the capital Kigali