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Kenya planning to ban use of plastic bags from August 2017

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said on Wednesday that it will outlaw the manufacture and import of plastic bags from August for damaging the environment.

Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said in a gazette notice that all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging will be banned from Aug. 28.

“It is notified to the public that the cabinet secretary for environment and natural resource has with effect from six months from the date of this notice (Feb 28)  banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.

The ban will affect carrier which is constructed with handles and with or without gussets; and flat bag constructed without handles and with or without gussets

The ban is on bags up to 0.06 millimetres (60 microns) in thickness which winds often carry hundreds of kilometres from their source of origin.

The government has advised manufacturers of plastic bags in the East African nation to adopt new technologies of making biodegradable bags.

Non-biodegradable plastic bags have been cited as a top environmental nuisance across the region, but Kenya is adamant that a total ban will devastate its manufacturing base, with huge job losses expected. Nairobi alone handles 86,000 bags daily.

The country’s first attempt in 2007 at cleaning up the country by banning the manufacture and import of bags of up to 0.03 millimetres (30 microns) did not succeed.

Of all five members of the East African Community—Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda—only Rwanda (since 2008) and Tanzania (in January) have so far successfully banned all plastic bags, and replaced them with paper bags.

In January, Tanzania followed Rwanda in effecting a total ban on plastic bags, which is also expected to hit Kenyan manufacturers hard, as the country has been a major export market.



UN Environment lauds Kenya’s plastic bags ban

By Peter Mutai  NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Wednesday commended Kenya for banning all production, use and import of plastic bags.

UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim said the move that will take effect in August is expected to inspire others and help drive further commitments to the Clean Seas campaign.

“Plastic waste also causes immeasurable damage to fragile ecosystems on land and at sea and Kenya’s decision is a major breakthrough in our global effort to turn the tide on plastic,” Solheim said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Judi Wakhungu on Wednesday announced a ban on the use, manufacture and import of all plastic bags, to take effect in six months.

The announcement came just three weeks after the UNEP declared a war on plastic through its new Clean Seas initiative, which has secured commitments to address major plastic pollution from ten governments.

Some 100 million plastic bags are handed out every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone, posing a challenge to the country’s urban waste disposal, particularly in the poorest communities where access to disposal systems and healthcare is limited.

Plastic bags have been 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.

Kenya is the 11th country to take action in support of the UN Environment campaign. In Africa, Rwanda and Morocco have already banned plastic bags and other countries are set to announce measures in the coming weeks.


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