Plastic bag use, importation to be banned in Gambia

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The Gambia government has decided to ban the importation and use of plastic bags in the country, with effect from 1st July 2015. The government also announced a policy of “No Compromise on Environmental Cleanliness.”

In a similar development, Senegal’s National Assembly yesterday Tuesday enacted a law banning the use or importation of plastic bags from the country, effective 1st July 2015.

Here is the full text of the press release issued by the Presidency on Monday 20 April 2015.

BAN ON USE AND IMPORTATION OF PLASTIC BAGS

The Government of The Gambia hereby announces a complete ban on the importation and use of plastic bags in the country with effect from 1st July 2015.

The indiscriminate use of plastic bags in The Gambia poses a serious existentialist threat to the fragile ecosystem of the country and presents an unwarranted environmental eyesore. Plastic bags are also responsible for suffocation deaths of sea and land animals, as well as inhibiting soil nutrients.

Plastic bags are non-biodegradable and do not decay for hundreds of years and therefore pose a dire threat to our environment. Even when disposed of, they end up in the trash, which then ends up in the landfill or is burnt. Burning them emits toxic gases that harm the atmosphere and increase the level of volatile organic compounds in the air.

Studies have revealed that an estimated 300 million plastic bags end up in the Atlantic Ocean alone. The environmental balance of our local and international waterways is being thrown off by the rate of plastic bags finding their way into the mouths and intestinal tracts of sea mammals. Where marine animals survive the swallowing of these bags, they are unable to continue with normal digestion and thus eventually die a slow and painful death from toxicity or intestinal blockage.

Plastic bags are made of various toxic chemicals that are sources of various diseases as well as disorders in humans. In recognition of these grave dangers, the Government of The Gambia will impose the ban on the importation and sale of these items and seeks the strict cooperation of all importers, sellers and users.

NO COMPROMISE ON ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANLINESS

It has come to the notice of the authorities that there is a noticeable paring down of activities on national cleaning days or set-settals in the country. The Government firmly restates that it is incumbent upon each and every Gambian to clean his or her environment as this engenders good health and well-being for the individual, the family, the community and the nation at large.

Over the recent years, The Gambia has registered significant improvements in reducing malaria infection, infant and maternal morbidity and mortality rates, partly ascribed to this regime of regular cleaning of our environment.We should therefore sustain these efforts instead of allow the gains to be rolled back through complacency.

The Government hereby strictly warns that all residents throughout the country – in all villages, towns and regions – must strictly adhere to the ethos of not just cleaning our environment on national cleaning days but at all times as required.

The Government also warns that it will not tolerate the violation of the rules of the cleaning period by engaging in worthless and anti-social behaviors instead of cleaning their environment.

National Environment Agency officials, law enforcement officers and local authorities at the regional, municipal, district and village levels are instructed to diligently execute these instructions.