Kenya is the latest African country to outlaw the plastic-bag carriers, joining Rwanda, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi, countries that have issued similar bans.
The ban is expected to play a key role in helping to protect the environment by outlawing the use of the use of plastic bags for commercial and household packing, which are known to contribute to environmental pollution. The law comes into effect in September according to the Kenyan Gazette notice.
“The government has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging,” the Cabinet secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Prof. Judi Wakhungu noted in the gazette notice.
This is not the first time the government have attempted to manage the use of plastic bags.
In 2007, the government issued a ban against non-biodegradable bags below 0.3 millimetres in thickness, which also failed.
In 2016, at the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA), the debate on the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill was shelved after strong opposition from Kenya, which argued that the ban on plastics bags would lead to massive jobs losses and economic loss.
However, the effect of plastic bags on the habitats is severe, causing environmental and health damages, killing fish in the water bodies, birds and other animals that suffocate or mistake the bags for food.
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has previously warned Kenya that the plastic bags have damaged agricultural land, polluting tourist sites and providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever.
With this new law, Kenya is set to finally put an end to plastic’s harmful effects on the environment.by