Congo bans plastic bags to fight pollution

Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:43pm GMT

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - The Republic of Congo has banned the production, import, sale and use of plastic bags in a move to fight environmental pollution in the Central African nation, government spokesman Bienvenu Okiemy said on Thursday.

Okiemy said the government adopted a decree following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. It prohibits the use of plastic bags to pack food, groceries, water and other beverages.

"For some years now, particularly in urban areas, Congo has witnessed major environmental pollution caused by discarded plastic bags which block drainage systems, causing floods and landslides," Okiemy said.

He did not say from when the ban would be effective.

Congo, like many developing nations, lacks adequate waste management and recycling facilities. The widely used non-biodegradable plastic bags are strewn about, causing harm to the environment.

Rwanda has led Africa's fight against plastic bags, banning them five years ago. Other countries have also moved to either ban or limit their usage.

In December, Italy said it would ban plastic shopping bags while the European Commission, said in May it was considering a tax or a ban on plastic bags to cut their use.

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