Kenyan pastoalists, and the Greenpeace Africa have lauded Kenya’s move to ban plastic bags starting end of this month.
Reacting to the news that the ban will take effect on 28th August and that the government has ruled out extension of the order, the two groups praised the government for the regulation that will be official from Monday. The items will no longer be manufactured, imported or used in Kenya.
“We lose millions of shillings annually when our animals die after eating plastics,” one said, adding the environment will be protected,” said Leshare Lekarpi, a resident of Porro area in Samburu central sub-county, who lost 30 cattle that ate plastics bags that are ubiquitous in most urban centres in Kenya.
On its part, the Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director, Njeri Kabeberi has said the decision by the Kenyan government to implement the plastic bags ban is laudable. “This is a beacon of hope in fostering an environmentally conscious society and is a clear message that Kenya is ready to join other African countries in taking bold steps on environmental issues that are key to ensuring a sustainable future,.” She said>
According to United Nations Environment Program, more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year, where they not only become a health hazard and public nuisance but also impact marine life, fisheries and tourism.
“Plastic bags are highly toxic and damage the ecosystem, they also take hundreds of years to degrade. We urge all Kenyans to know the importance of preserving the environment. Kenyans need to adopt 100% re-usable and eco-friendly alternative packaging materials in the market like the Kiondo baskets (traditional baskets) similar to the traditional tunisian baskets called “koffa” that are now used for shopping after Tunisia banned plastic bags in March this year,” continued Kabeberi.
“As we welcome this ban, we cannot forget the challenge that lies ahead of us in dealing with the tonnes of plastics already polluting our environment. Greenpeace urges the Kenyan government to work with local communities and NGOs to look for sustainable ways of recycling plastic into usable items,” concluded Kabeberi.
Greenpeace Africa will work with National and County governments towards making the ban effective as this will indeed mitigate health and environmental effects resulting from the use of plastic bags.
John Lemakara a Samburu resident echoed others’ feelings and added that if possible, let the plastic bags be completely eliminated and replaced with environmentally friendly shopping bags.
The National Environment Management Authority warned manufacturers and companies selling the commodity of severe consequences should they disregard the rule. The ban however does not affect bags used in industrial packaging.