16 March 2017

Kenya places a complete ban on plastic bags

The Government of Kenya has announced a ban on the use, manufacture and import of all plastic bags which will come into force in six months. 

In Africa, a number of nations have already adopted or announced bans on plastic bags, including Rwanda and Morocco, with other countries are set to announce measures in the coming weeks.

In Kenya, approximately 100 million plastic bags are handed out each year by supermarkets alone.

Plastic waste has long been associated with environmental damage and health risks, including killing wildlife, damaging agricultural land, polluting tourist sites and providing breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria and dengue fever.

Furthermore, they contribute to the more than 8 million tonnes of plastics that enter oceans each year.

According to UN Environment, at current rates by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, wreaking havoc on marine fisheries, wildlife and tourism.

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, said: “Kenya is taking decisive action to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty. Plastic waste also causes immeasurable damage to fragile ecosystems - both on land and at sea - and this decision is a major breakthrough in our global effort to turn the tide on plastic.”

The news of Kenya’s plastic bag ban comes just weeks after the UN announced its new Clean Seas initiative, which has already resulted in ten governments committing to address plastic pollution.

Indonesia has committed to reduce marine waste by 70 per cent within the next eight years, allocating $1 billion annually to curb waste products polluting its oceans.

Erik Solheim said: “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.”

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