Ban on plastic use to take effect in six months’ time
The Government has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags just three weeks after the United Nations declared “war on plastics” through its new Clean Seas initiative.
Some 100 million plastic bags are handled every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone. The ban which has already secured commitments to address major plastic pollution from 10 governments will be effected within six months.
Identified as a major cause of environmental damage and health problems plastics kill birds, fish and other animals that consume them, damage agricultural land, pollute tourist sites and provide breeding grounds for malaria and dengue fever carrying mosquitoes.
“Kenya is taking decisive action to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty,” said UN Environment’s Executive Director, Erik Solheim in a press statement on Wednesday.
He further said that plastic waste also causes immeasurable damage to fragile ecosystems, both on land and at sea and that this decision is a major breakthrough in the global effort to turn the tide on plastics.
“Kenya should be commended for its environmental leadership. It’s a great example that I hope will inspire others, and help drive further commitments to the Clean Seas campaign,” he said.
Plastic bags are the number one challenge for urban waste disposal in Kenya, particularly in the poorest communities where access to disposal systems and healthcare is limited.
They also contribute to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that leak into the ocean every year. At current rates by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, wreaking havoc on marine fisheries, wildlife and tourism.
Kenya is the 11th country to take action in support of the UN Environment campaign. In Africa, Rwanda and Morocco have already banned plastic bags and other countries are set to announce measures in the coming weeks.
By Alice Gworo