The government of Kenya is now putting a ban on the manufacture and use of plastic bags both commercially and in households.
The Kenyan Minister of Environment, Judi W. Wakhungu who had the ban published in a gazette in February added that the ban will take effect six months from the date it was published.
Both carrier bags and flat bags which are described in the notice as being constructed with/without handles respectively, and with or without gussets.
Climate Action reports that approximately 100 million plastic bags are handed out each year by supermarkets alone in Kenya.
Other African countries which have banned plastic bags include Mauritania, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Malawi.
Mauritania was the first African country to impose the ban in 2013. The Mauritanian government stated that the litter of plastic bags in the country were hazardous to livestock such as cattle which had died as result of consumption of these bags.
The head of UN environment, Erik Solheim praised Kenya’s decision, saying that “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.”
Plastic bags pose an environmental hazard. Ending up in waste bins mean they get incinerated which leads to the emission of toxic gasses into the air. Although some waste management plants recycle them, putting plastic bags in a recycle bin does not determine whether it will be recycled or not. Some plants send them off to landfills or burn them because recycling these bags are usually expensive.
As nonbiodegradable objects, when littered they tend to remain plastic bags. Sometimes they are carried away by the winds and end up in waterways or beaches. This also causes harm to aquatic animals as they tend to consume them.
UN Environment predicts that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish if current practices are continued.