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Tanzania: New Rules on Plastic Bottles on the Cards

The government is preparing new regulations which are expected to restrict use of plastic bottles that are not easily recycled and environmentally unfriendly.

Soft drink manufacturers will be required to use a clear polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle for packaging, instead of colored bottles whose recyclability is said to be not critical to improving the environment.

Clear plastics are always preferred in the recycled materials market, and have the highest material value because transparent plastic can typically be dyed with greater flexibility.

Speaking yesterday, the minister of State in the Vice President Office responsible for Union and Environment, Mr Selemani Jafo, said the regulations are set to be ready before the end of the year and will be painful to soft drink makers who use colored bottle packaging.

Mr Jafo was speaking during a function where Coca Cola unveiled the new look of its Sprite which is now packaged in the new plastic bottle.

"Regulations which are in the offing will be really very tough. You (soft drink makers) will need to tolerate us," said Mr Jafo, noting that the government's aim was to phase out unfriendly packaging.

"The regulations will be gazetted before the end of the year, ready for use.

Commending Coca Cola for taking the lead in using reusable and recycled materials in its packaging, he urged other investors to follow suit.

The National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) director general, Dr Samuel Gwamaka, said that the plan on cards is to phase out coloured bottle packaging within 12 months from now on.

He said NEMC had already written to some investors to inform them about the plan and the need for them to act responsibly when it comes to environmental protection.

"We need investors' tax. But we are not ready to compromise with environmental protection," noted Dr Gwamaka.

Pouring his praise on Coca-Cola for being proactive, he said it is very rare to see members of the private sector pursue a certain move, environmental protection in this regard, without directives from regulators.

Coca-Cola Kwanza managing director Unguu Sulay said the change of the iconic bottle look is the demonstration of Coca-Cola's commitment to environmental protection using eco-friendly innovations.

"A new shift from iconic green bottles means more Sprite bottles can be collected, recycled and reused to make new ones," noted Mr Sulay.

The move, he added, is part of the company's 'world without waste' vision which targets to collect and recycle every bottle that the company produces by 2030.

The world without waste strategy represents Coca-Cola's commitment to do business sustainably, which includes addressing the packaging waste challenge.

The clear PET can be made into a wide range of new products, such as pillow and duvet inners, as well as into new bottles, making it more valuable than green PET which has limited uses.

"We are excited to introduce the transparent Sprite bottle in Tanzania, in a fresh bid to support the government's environmental sustainability endeavours," noted Mr Sulay.The clear PET plastic also contributes to economic empowerment as it will have more value for waste recyclers who depend on collecting and selling plastic packaging waste for a living. Tanzania is the fifth market in Africa where Coca-Cola has introduced the Sprite clear PET, after South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya.