Gambia is joining several other regional neighbors in targeting plastics bags, with the west African country banning the importing and use of them as of July 1.
A statement on the website of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh said the “indiscriminate use of plastic bags… poses a serious existentialist threat to the fragile ecosystem of the country and presents an unwarranted environmental eyesore.”
As well, the government said that 300 million plastic bags end up in the Atlantic Ocean, where they harm marine life.
According to local media reports, however, the move was questioned by some local merchants, who said plastic bags are useful to business and asked for clarification about whether industrial packaging was covered.
A story on the website of the Agence de Presse Africaine said local police had already begun enforcing the ban. Gambia, with a population of only 1.9 million, is one of the smallest countries in Africa.
At a May meeting of the country’s National Plastics Taskforce, officials with the environment ministry defended their actions, noting that South Africa, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia and Ghana have also restricted plastic bags.