Kenya has ban the use of plastic bags. The ban on plastic bags came into force yesterday in Kenya with those found guilty having the option of paying a maximum fine of $38,000 or risk up to four years imprisonment.
Habib El-Habr, an expert, on Marine Litter, working with the United Nations Environment Programme in Kenya, said that many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation.
“If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish”.
He stated that a plastic bag takes between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, and it also enters the human food chain through fish and other animals.
County Vet, Mbuthi Kinyanjui, mentioned that in Nairobi’s slaughterhouses, some Cows meant for human consumption, had 20 bags removed from their stomachs raising fears of plastic contamination in beef.
“This is something we didn’t get ten years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis”.
Kenya’s Environment Minister, Judy Wakhungu, explained that enforcement would initially be directed at Manufacturers and Suppliers saying that the ordinary man will not be targeted.
Reacting to the ban on plastic bags, the Spokesman for the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Samuel Matonda, pointed out that it would cost Kenyans over 60,000 jobs and force over 170 Manufacturers to close business.
“The knock-on effects will be very severe”, it will even affect the women who sell vegetables in the market. How will their customers carry their shopping home?”
Kenya’s law allows police to go after anyone carrying a plastic bag. It took Kenya three attempts over ten years to finally pass the ban, and not everyone is a fan. The government says the ban will help protect the environment. Manufacturers who use polythene to wrap products are exempted from the ban.
Kenyans are estimated to use 24 million bags a month. Kenya joins over 40 countries to enforce the ban on plastic bags. Other countries in the list include Mauritania, Eritrea, Rwanda, Italy, among others.