Nairobi, 22nd February 2018 – Single use plastic carrier bags were banned in Kenya in August 28th last year, but six months later plastic bags in grocery stores and small scale traders have become the norm. Reports show that smugglers operating at Kenya’s border points are using porous borders to bring in plastic bags from other East African countries, making a mockery of the ban.

Reacting to this development, Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Food for Life Campaign manager, Renee Olende has said:
“The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has turned a blind eye on a thriving black market for plastic bags in Kenya. Traders in several countries still use plastic bags despite the ban being in place. NEMA needs to put more effort and seal all loopholes for effective implementation of this ban and uphold its commitment to the East African Community Polythene Materials Control Bill.”

The plastic ban in Kenya is a bold and timely step as it contributes to the global effort of protecting the environment. Plastic constitutes 60-80% of all marine litter and is increasing at an alarming rate. It leads to the loss of marine live, flooding of Kenya’s cities, causes animal death, clogged waterways, soil degradation, landscape litter soil, toxic air and water pollution.

“Although majority of Kenyans have generally showed willingness to accept the change,  many continue to use the prohibited bags. NEMA needs to undertake civic education and extensive awareness program to educate the public on the negative impacts of plastic to both humans and the environment and the alternative options available. The government of Kenya should also subsidise the eco- friendly bags, ” continued Olende.

Notes to the Editor:

[1] The East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) passed the East African Community (EAC) Polythene Materials Control Bill in 2016.This was aimed at providing a legal framework for the preservation of a clean and healthy environment through the prohibition of manufacturing, sale, importation and use of polythene materials.It is imperative that all member states adhere to this legislation and ban plastics in their countries. This ban will be more effective if all countries in the East African Community impose similar laws.

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