Has Kenya's plastic bag ban worked?

Has Kenya’s plastic bag ban labored?

A woman washes her clothes near a rubbish dump in Nairobi, Kenya.Picture copyright
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Kenya is attempting to sort out the issues attributable to plastic garbage

Two years in the past, Kenya launched a ban on plastic service luggage.

Has it labored?

Tens of tens of millions of plastic luggage have been handed out in supermarkets yearly in Kenya.

They polluted the surroundings and clogged up drainage techniques contributing to floods in wet seasons.

A examine supported by the Nationwide Environmental Administration Company (Nema) discovered that greater than 50% of cattle close to city areas have been discovered to have plastic luggage of their stomachs.

So after years of promising to take motion, the federal government made the manufacturing, sale and distribution of plastic service luggage unlawful.

  • Kenya plastic bag ban comes into pressure

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Plastic waste luggage are a serious environmental drawback in lots of African international locations

Because the ban, the federal government says 80% of the inhabitants have stopped utilizing plastic service luggage.

Though that is encouraging, a few of the options have additionally been discovered to be environmentally damaging.

Anybody discovered manufacturing, importing or promoting a plastic service bag might be fined as much as $40,000 (£32,000) or face a jail sentence of as much as 4 years. Utilizing the banned luggage carries a fantastic of greater than $500 or a jail time period of as much as a yr.

To date, fines of between $500 and $1,500 have been handed out to round 300 individuals.

Others have been despatched to jail, says Keriako Tobiko, Kenya’s surroundings minister.

Final yr, 18 individuals who pleaded responsible in a court docket within the Kenyan coastal metropolis of Mombasa have been fined $300 or sentenced to eight months in jail for utilizing the baggage.

In different circumstances, first-time offenders have been let off with out punishment.

“It’s on the discretion of the courts to resolve what penalty they are going to give. The choose has the discretion relying on the case,” Mamo Mamo, the performing director normal of Nema, informed the BBC.

The hardest penalty imposed to date has been on a producer who was sentenced to a jail time period of 1 yr with out the choice of a fantastic, in accordance with Mr Mamo.

He says the ban is having an actual affect – abattoirs are actually discovering fewer luggage inside cows.

There has additionally been reward from environmental charities.

“It’s good progress if what we see round is something to go by. Beforehand, driving from Nairobi to a spot just like the Masai Mara you’d see plastic luggage hanging from bushes like flowers after being blown away and getting caught. We do not see them any extra,” says Nancy Githaiga, WWF Kenya’s coverage and analysis supervisor.

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The federal government says fewer plastic luggage are being present in cows

The ban has largely been thought-about successful though some kinds of plastic luggage haven’t disappeared completely.

Whereas supermarkets and lots of retailers are not handing out service luggage, small merchants have been utilizing a smaller bag product of clear plastic.

And there are indicators these are being smuggled into the nation from neighbouring Uganda and Somalia.

“There’s a excessive chance for illicit merchandise to enter the Kenyan market as a consequence of our porous borders and the country-specific coverage determination on plastic luggage that wasn’t adopted on the regional degree. Illicit commerce is a big problem within the nation,” says the Kenya Affiliation of Producers (Kam).

Smuggling throughout the border is an issue reported by Rwanda too, which banned plastic luggage in 2008, and Morocco, which began implementing a ban in 2017.

Tanzania, which additionally was once a supply of plastics smuggled by way of the border, carried out a ban in June.

Authorities faces new issues

Following the ban, polypropylene luggage turned a well-liked different.

Polypropylene is a sort of plastic that’s simpler to recycle than polythene, the plastic extra extensively utilized in bag manufacturing.

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Nevertheless, Nema discovered that producers quickly began to scale back the standard of any such bag, growing the polythene content material, so it could not be recycled.

“The only utilization of those luggage will ultimately result in heavy environmental penalties as a consequence of poor disposal practices at present being skilled within the nation coupled with the shortage of requisite infrastructure to sustainably handle these luggage,” Nema says.

The federal government then banned polypropylene luggage in March 2019 till a top quality customary was launched.

However producers and merchants challenged this and the ban was reversed, in order that polypropylene is at present permitted.

Kam claims the plastic bag ban led to a lack of jobs, funding and markets as some producers closed their companies and others relocated to different international locations.

Nevertheless it has additionally introduced new enterprise alternatives.

“The few remaining plastic luggage manufacturing firms have diversified their operations to supply fabric-based luggage, non-woven luggage, pulp paper-based luggage amongst others,” Kam’s communications officer Grace Mbogo informed the BBC.

“Nevertheless, the capability for manufacturing stays low as a result of restricted provide of uncooked supplies domestically.”

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