Tuesday, 10 February 2015


It is close to 10 months since the ban on the production of Bio Non Degradable Plastics of less than 60 microns in Cameroon, but it is far from being a reality in Bafoussam and many other towns of Cameroon. Cameroon Tribune, the state owned lone bilingual newspaper in Cameroon reported on January 15, 2015 that “Non-biodegradable plastic sacks are back in homes and markets in spite of the April 24 ban”. They further explained, traders in the sector were just creating a superficial scarcity to rocket up prices and make more profits.
Plastic bags banned by the April 24, 2014 decree on  Bio Non Degradable plastics in Cameroon

Shortage in the supply of biodegradable plastics to shops and markets places is seemingly the reason why traders are returning to their old habits. Some shop owners complain about the heavy cost of procuring the Bio degradable bags ranging from FCFA 50 to 1000 depending on the size. It is however not good for business because traders say their clients wouldn’t want to buy plastics for such an exorbitant amount which hitherto, was given to them free.

Law experts say what shop owners and industries who venture into this business fail to understand is that according to article 81 of the April 24, 2014 ban, they risk a FCFA 10 to 50 million fine as well as two to five years of imprisonment if caught dealing with such products.

But how effective is this law implemented? Here in Bafoussam, Kamkop, my neighbor Mr. Sylvain a shop owner told me “I still have a lot of bags at my disposal but because, I want to respect the law, I am selling it to a giveaway price to dealers”. Dealers like Ngenglefac Bonaventure in Yaounde who pays time without numbered FCFA 25 000 as fine to controllers from the Ministries of Environment and Trade in order get his products into the market. His products and other non-degradable plastics are highly in use today. Make a stop at the market or shop to buy anything anywhere in Cameroon and you are well served with a plastic as before the ban.

Although some few bakeries are fully established with the biodegradables, the number is very small as compared to the number of shops and markets in Cameroon. The Director of Standards and Control at the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature Enow Peter told Cameroon Tribune that a reasonable quantity of non-biodegradable paper might still be circulating and that they might be entering the country illegally; but cautioned the public to steer clear. He explained that the public should be aware that government wants plastic bags with focus on “thickness with a distinction of above 61 microns.”

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