Kenya’s decision to ban single use plastic products in all protected areas — beaches, national parks, conservation areas and forests — took effect June 5.
This was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta in an address at the opening plenary of Day 3 of the Women Deliver Conference in Canada last year.
The ban comes just two years after the country banned the use of polythene carrier bags, aimed to benefit public health, biodiversity, tourism and agriculture.
Kenya’s August 2017 ban on the production, sale and use of plastics carrier bags was considered one of strictest in the world. The penalty is up to four years in prison or a fine of Ksh4 million ($40,000).
According to a newly launched trend report by Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB-Kenya), the ban is a logical next step in reducing the amount of unsustainably disposed plastics; after the 2017 ban on throw away carrier bags. Results indicate an 80 per cent success rate and reduced polythene bags along Kenya’s coastline, parks and drainages.
“This comes at a time when we see an increase in single-use plastic products, and the ban will go a long way in encouraging the adoption of the refuse, rethink, remanufacture, recycle, and recover model of production,” said Karin Boomsma, director, Sustainable Inclusive Business. He was speaking at the lunch of the “Singe Use Plastic Trend Report.” SIB-Kenya, which is hosted by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa), observes that plastic production is expected to double over the next 20 years, most of which will be single use packaging material.
The single use plastics ban includes cutlery, straws, balloons, PET-bottles, cigarette butts, sweet wrappers and other products containing polymers that are harmful to the environment when not disposed of in a proper way.
Visitors to national parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas will not be allowed to have on them disposable plates, cups, straws, spoons, forks and water bottles, which are considered environmental pollutants.
“Plastic production has surged over the past decades, from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 349 tonnes in 2018 and is expected to double over the next 20 years, with most of it being single use packaging material. Plastic has one disadvantage: It does not decompose in nature. Therefore, plastic is omnipresent in our lives,” says the report.
“After use, most plastics are disposed of in landfills while others are recycled, incinerated, littered or randomly dumped.