Can I take plastic bags to Africa?

February 28th 2019  |   Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Travel, Uganda  |  by   Renate
plastic bags to Kenya
Recycled plastic boat dhow, Lamu, Kenya. The Flipflopi Project UN Environment Clean Seas Project

Kenya joins over 40 countries to have made plastic bags (including duty-free bags) illegal, with a ban imposed in 2017. Africa has been leading the global war on plastics, and to date many of southern and eastern African countries have banned plastic bags.

Can I take plastic bags to Kenya?

The law bans the use, manufacture and importation of all single-use plastic bags into the country.  Travellers coming into Kenya with duty-free plastic shop bags will be required to leave them at the airport although the government has confirmed that re-usable ziplock bags continue to be allowed.

Can I take single use plastics to Kenya’s National Parks?

With effect from 5th June 2020, the use of single use plastics in all of Kenya’s protected areas will be banned. Visitors to National Parks, conservation areas, forests and beaches will be prohibited from using disposable plates, cups, cutlery, straws and plastic plates.

Can I use plastic bags for in shopping Kenya?

No.  If you go to a Kenyan shop you need to take your own fabric bag or receive your goods in a paper bag.  Fabric bags can be bought inexpensively at Kenyan supermarkets for around 10 Kenyan shillings (10 US cents or 7 UK pence).

Can I take plastic bags to Tanzania?

From 1 June 2019, Tanzania will enforce a ban on plastic bags (this applies to all plastic bags including anything purchased in airport or duty free bags).

“Plastics carrier items known as “ziploc bags” that are specifically used to carry toiletries will be permitted as they are expected to remain in the permanent possession of visitors and are not expected to be disposed in the country” – January Makamba, Minister responsible for the Environment and the Union of Tanzania.

Can I take plastic bags to Botswana?

While the government confirmed that re-usable zip lock bags continue to be allowed, the use of other plastic bags was banned in November 2018. Signs at Maun International Airport warn visitors that plastic bags will be confiscated. Any duty-free bags will be taken away and replaced with either a paper or canvas bag.

Can I take plastic bags to Uganda?

Uganda banned the use of plastic bags in 2018 and visitors may not bring plastic bags into the country. This includes airport duty free bags, which you will be asked to dispose of at the airport on arrival. Any duty-free bags will be taken away and replaced with either a paper or canvas bag.

Can I take plastic bags to Rwanda?

Rwanda banned non-biodegradable polythene bags in 2008. This includes plastic zip lock bags and duty-free bags. Signs at Kigali International Airport warn visitors that plastic bags will be confiscated. Any duty-free bags will be taken away and replaced with either a paper or canvas bag

Can I take plastic bags to Namibia?

Namibia, whilst not having put a complete ban on plastic bags, has banned all plastic bags from entering national parks and reserves.

Can I take plastic bags to the Seychelles?

The Seychelles banned single use plastics in 2017.

Has banning plastic bags made a difference to Africa?

Rwanda is noticeably cleaner and Kigali has been declared by UN Habitat as Africa’s cleanest city. The lack of plastic bags littering the streets is visible not just in Kigali’s city streets but in the countryside too.  Rwanda is looking to ban other types of plastic and is even hinting at the possibility of becoming the world’s first plastic free nation. Its constitution recognises that “every citizen is entitled to a healthy and satisfying environment.”

Packing tips for a plastic free safari

Use an electric or stainless-steel razor instead of a disposable razor. Switch to paper or bamboo ear buds. Remove any plastic packaging from new items. This will save on weight and reduce the amount of bulk. Opt for no straw or paper straws in your cocktails and juices. Use a refillable water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles. Many camps bottle their own fresh water and give guests a refillable water bottle rather than shipping in water.

Refillable guest water bottles, Elewana Collection

Refillable guest water bottles, Elewana Collection

You can empty it and take it through airport security to refill on the other side. Carry a backpack or large bag for buying souvenirs. Take an eco-friendly, biodegradable toothbrush.

Packing tips for travelling with children without plastics

Make sure sweets don’t have wrappers that will end up as litter somewhere. Dried fruit takes up less space than fresh, with less peel and cores to dispose of. Nuts take up much less space than crisps and therefore less packaging. Use rechargeable batteries or at least take them home with you for recycling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.