Kenyan Plastic Bag Ban– After 10 years of back and forth, the Kenyan government on Sunday took a concrete decision against the manufacture and use of plastic bags in the country.
According to the recently endorsed law anyone found as from Monday, August 28, 2017, to be in possession or in the business of the polythene bags stands the chance of facing a 4 year jail term or a fine of $38,000.
The National Environmental and Management Authority says that travelers arriving the country with duty-free plastic shop bags will be mandated drop them at the airport.
However the new law considered businesses who wrap their products with polythene bags and exempted them from the ban.
Though many applaud government’s decision on the use of plastic bags, many concerns were also raised.
First, the manufacturers of the bags warn that about 80,000 jobs may be lost. Secondly, small-scale traders complain of not having another packaging alternative.
In all of the arguments, the government maintains that the health and environmental safety of the country is their priority. Kenya’s High Court dismissed a case filed by two plastic bags importers against the plastic bag ban.
Kenya for the first time after two failed attempts in a 10 year period succeeded to endorse the ban after a 6 months grace. This is to afford all who may be concerned and affected by the ban to adjust.
The Kenyan Plastic bag ban has none other but a health and safety undertone. Europe for instance has placed regulations on the use of their various carrier bags. The Western world commonly patronizes paper/cotton bags.
Some other African countries that have also banned the use of plastic bags are South Africa, Rwanda and Eritrea.
Let’s take a look at why the Kenyan plastic bag ban seems to have appealed to great number of its citizens:
1. Litters the Environment
The first negative physical effect of polythene bags is how messy it makes the environment when carelessly thrown away. UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) describes it as “an iconic symbol of waste”.
2. Poisons Man And Animals
When carelessly handled and they find their way into water bodies, polythene bags are ingested by fishes and other sea animals. Consequently, this causes internal damages to the sea animals as they cannot be digested.
When these sea animals are affected, so also does man when he consumes the sea animals.
3. Expensive To Clean Out
Did you know that burning polythene bags pollutes the air with toxic fumes? These harmful wastes are then deposited in soil/plants and surface waters.
In England, to clear out littered plastic bags costs a whooping annual sum of £10 million.
4. Affects Soil Quality
As a non biodegradable waste, plastic bags lasts for hundreds of years without decomposing. When in contact with the soil, these plastic bags alters its fertility.
In mountainous locations, plastic reduces soil water absorption and permeability.
5. Consumes Resources
For a long lasting product that is used for a few minutes in the day, polythene bags worrisomely takes up large quantities of resources such as oil. It is estimated that about 100 million barrels of oil are used worldwide in the manufacture of plastic bags.