Kenya based its decision to ban plastics on scientific evidence of the threats of pollution.
Environment CS Judi Wakhungu yesterday told the third United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri, Nairobi, that plastics were introduced into the country in the 1960s as a simple solution for packaging, but turned out to be a nightmare.
“The plastics turned out to be the biggest challenge in solid waste management. Our resolve to ban plastics was informed by scientific evidence of the negative effects of the menace,” she said in a speech read on her behalf by National Environment Management Authority director general Geoffrey Wahungu.
Plastics don’t decompose, have negative aesthetic costs — littering and blockage of sewerage and drainage systems — and increase public health costs, Wakhungu said.
They also pollute the coastal and marine environment, kill livestock and wild animals when ingested, contaminate air when burnt in the open and endanger human health when used for packaging hot food.
Experts have warned that there will be more plastics than fish in Oceans by 2050 if action is not taken.
Wakhungu said plastics continue to hurt Kenya’s selling point — its natural and scenic beauty — as seen in national parks that need to be protected.
“A major concern is that the highways being gateways to Kenya’s major tourist attraction destinations had plastic waste strewn all over,” she said.
The national parks were no longer natural and were littered either by careless tourists or through polythene blown by the wind, she added.
“The Nakuru National Park, for instance, was collecting tons of polythene bags thrown by wind or carried by rivers. The cost of removing such bags was estimated to be a whopping Sh3 million every three months.”
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