Togo bans plastic bags amid growing global trend

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The Independent Online

Togo on Wednesday said it will outlaw the import and sale of plastic bags from July in order to protect the environment, picking up on a growing global trend.

"These bags have become truly disastrous for the environment...The public must know that a plastic bag is not biodegradable and that they need at least 400 years to decompose," said trade ministry official Mohamed Saad Sama.

Importers of plastic bags were given a six-month deadline and manufacturers nine months, he told national television.

More than three billion plastic bags are used every year by Lome residents, according to estimates by green group Pour un Avenir Ensoleille (For a Sunny Future)."

Kenya last week declared a similar ban, renewing an earlier pledge that had failed in 2007.

Of all five members of the East African Community - Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda - only Rwanda has so far successfully banned all plastic bags since 2008, and replaced them with paper bags.

Italy, among the top consumers of plastic bags in Europe, began banning them from shops and supermarkets beginning January 1, a move widely welcomed by environmentalists.

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