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January 18, 2019

4 countries seek to emulate Kenya’s ban on plastic bags

Four and a half year-old Mariam Abuya at a plastic bottles garbage collection area at Tudor Mombasa Aug 11 2015./ANDREW KASUKU
Four and a half year-old Mariam Abuya at a plastic bottles garbage collection area at Tudor Mombasa Aug 11 2015./ANDREW KASUKU

Kenya has inspired four more countries to ban plastic bags.

South Africa, Chile, Oman and Sri Lanka want to follow in Kenya’s footsteps.

They announced new measures including plastic bags bans, marine litter and ocean pollution, when their representatives visited Nairobi last week during the United Nations Environment Assembly.

“For too long, we have treated the ocean as a bottomless dumping ground for plastic, sewage and other waste,” said Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme.

Related content : Kenya plastic bag ban comes into force after years of delays

Nearly 40 countries from Kenya to Canada and Indonesia to Brazil have joined the #CleanSeas campaign, which aims to counter the deluge of plastic trash that are degrading oceans.

The countries account for more than half of the world’s coastline.

In Africa, plastic bags have been fully or partially banned in Kenya, Rwanda, Eritrea, Mauritania, Botswana, Tunisia, Morocco, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Minister of Environment for Sri Lanka, Anura Dissanayake, said they are banning plastics to set the trend inAsia.

“Sri Lanka is taking bold action to turn the tide on plastics. We have banned plastic bags and are now working to reduce the number of plastic bottles in the country,” he said in Gigiri.

South Africa said it will step up its beach cleanup programme and prioritise action on tyres and electronic waste.

Kenya banned plastic bags in August and is now contemplating action on plastic bottles.

National Environment Management Authority chairman John Konchellah said they will consult with the Environment ministry on how such bottles can be limited.

“As soon as we are through plastic bags we will start addressing the plastic bottles menace. We do not need them [bottles]. We will work together with the Environment ministry to address this issue,” he said in Nakuru town.

Also read : Kenya bans use of plastic bags from September

Data from the Environment ministry shows that approximately 50 million bottles are used annually across Kenya.

Last week, Unep’s Erik Solheim said there are alternatives to plastic bottles including glass, aluminum and natural materials like paper.

The UN says the flow of pollution means litter such as drinks bottles and flip-flops – as well as tiny plastic fragments, including microbeads used in cosmetics – are concentrating in the oceans and washing up on the most remote shorelines.

Humans have dumped billions of tonnes of plastic in the ocean and are adding it to at a rate of eight million tonnes a year, Unep said.

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