• The ban on plastics in the protected areas was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Vancouver, Canada, last year.
• Environmentalists have warned that seas will have more plastic than fish by 2050 if poor disposal of the items is not contained.
In a matter of three days, you will not be allowed into any of Kenya’s protected areas with plastic bottles.
Your water bottle, plastic plate, plastic cup, plastic spoon and fork will not be allowed on beaches, forests or national parks as a ban on plastics announced by the government takes effect.
The ban on plastics in the protected areas was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he addressed the opening plenary of Day 3 of Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, Canada.
The President told the meeting that the ban would be effected on June 5, which is three days away.
"Sustainable environment is a guarantee to a healthy, better and productive society. And that is why women and girls who are key victims of unsustainable practices must own this campaign as part of the gender equality campaign," he said.
The ban came after what was hailed as the "world’s toughest plastic ban" on plastic bags enforced in Kenya in August 2017.
The ban applied to all plastic carrier bags and flat bags used for commercial and household packaging.
The bags not only polluted the environment but also clogged up drainage systems, contributing to flooding in rainy seasons.
A study supported by the National Environmental Management Authority found that more than 50 per cent of cattle near urban areas had plastic bags in their stomachs.
Tens of millions of branded plastic bags used to handed out in supermarkets annually.
Environmentalists have warned that seas will have more plastic than fish by 2050 if poor disposal of the items is not contained.
Those found with plastics in Kenya are fined Sh2 million-Sh4 million or a jail term of 1-2 years, or both.
Kenya is however grappling with how to handle poor-quality alternatives as the rising need for the non-woven bags resulted in manufacturers making low gauge, poor quality non-woven bags that cannot be reused.
Karura Forest was, after the ban, declared plastic-free.
Other countries which have since then enforced strictures on varieties of plastics include Zimbabwe, the UK, Taiwan, Australia, Rwanda, Italy, Morocco and the US states of New York, Washington and California (Malibu City).
While some companies recycle plastic bottles, the problem is still a bother. Many more companies have pledged to recycle the items.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has written to stakeholders to support the ban.
Balala, in a May 28 letter to tourism and wildlife stakeholders, said the government is mandated to provide a clean and healthy environment for all Kenyans.
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WCMA) 2013 defines a protected area as geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed through legal or other effective means.
The Act says the move is meant to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
Balala said the Act further addresses pollution with section 89(1), (b) and (c) making it an offence to pollute protected areas.
“The Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016 provides for the development and sustainable management, including conservation and rational utilisation of all forest resources for socio-economic development of the country and other connected purposes,” Balala said.
The ban on plastics underlines the government’s commitment in addressing the plastic pollution menace, in line with the various legal provisions on waste management and conservation of natural resources and ecosystems.
“The ministry, therefore wishes to urge you to jointly work towards the full implementation of this ban on single-use plastics in all our protected areas, including national parks, beaches, forests and other conservation areas,” Balala said.
- mwaniki fm