African countries lead the fight against plastic pollution

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Tsogo Sun, one of South Africa’s larger hotel chains, recently announced that they would ban plastic straws from their 113 hotels and casinos. Plastic straws are among the many single-use plastic items that end up in our oceans, polluting the water and harming marine life.

The ban on the straws, which are not biodegradable, joins a raft of measures intended to reduce the use of plastic. The other measures include retail chains phasing out selling plastic bags and a national tax on plastic carrier bags.

While the plastic-bag levy, introduced in 2003, has failed to significantly reduce consumption of plastic bags there is some evidence that it has encouraged recycling.

The activist/retailer organisation “Reuse this Bag” calculates that 160 000 plastic bags are used every second but less than 3% of these are recycled.

In terms of reducing consumption a more drastic measure has been a ban on the sale of plastic bags. Such methods have been adopted by 32 countries across the globe.

“Reuse this Bag” research indicates that more than half of the countries (18) that have banned plastic bags are in Africa. In 2006 Rwanda took a lead and banned the use of plastic bags. Since then it has been joined by neighbouring Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The map below shows the countries that restrict plastic bags through a ban or the imposition of a tax levy: