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A ban on plastic bags takes effect today in Kenya. The blanket ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags was imposed in March.
Under the Environment Manufacturers and Co-ordination Act, a culprit faces not less than a year in prison or a fine of not less than Shillings 2 million ($19,305). The government has vowed strict enforcement of the law.
Local media portals have reported that officers of the implementation agency and police have been deployed to enforce compliance of the ban.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) petitioned the president in July against the ban. They cited job and revenue losses for their position and opted to contribute to a fund that will cater for plastic waste management in the country.
A last minute court case attempting to halt the law was shot down by the court paving the way for today’s ban.
It is the third time in a decade that the East Africa giant has taken this path. In 2007 and 2011, the ban focused on reducing the thickness of the bags which was not successfully achieved as the plastic waste menace continued to affect the environment.
In the East African region, Rwanda and Eritrea are on record as the two countries to have banned the use of plastics. Rwanda is particularly lauded as being a success story at banning plastic bags in 2008, earning them praise from the international community especially for being the first in the world to do so.
Environmentalists have expressed happiness at the law and are hopeful that Kenya – with effective implementation – can chart the path of countries in the world who have succeeded in banning plastic bags.
According to research, 4,000 tonnes of plastic bags are produced each month in Kenya and half of that ends up in the waste stream without proper management.