Kenya has become the 11th country to ban use of plastics bags, signaling support of the UN Environment campaign “war on plastic” through its new Clean Seas initiative.
The announcement by the Kenyan government said the ban to take effect in six months, extends to the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags.
The UN war on plastics announced three weeks ago already has commitments to address major plastic pollution from 10 governments.
A statement by UNEP disclosed that “some 100 million plastic bags are handed out every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone”.
It further said that plastics are “identified as a major cause of environmental damage and health problems, they kill birds, fish and other animals that mistake them for food, damage agricultural land, pollute tourist sites and provide breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever”
According to Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment: “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.
“Kenya should be commended for its environmental leadership. It's a great example that I hope will inspire others, and help drive further commitments to the Clean Seas campaign.”
UNEP said plastic bags are the number one challenge for urban waste disposal in Kenya, particularly in the poorest communities where access to disposal systems and healthcare is limited.
“They also contribute to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that leak into the ocean every year. At current rates by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, wreaking havoc on marine fisheries, wildlife and tourism.”
In Africa, Rwanda and Morocco have already banned plastic bags and other countries are set to announce measures in the coming weeks.