CLEAN SEAS INITIATIVE

Pollution: Kenya still at risk despite UN plastics nod - Greenpeace

A study supported by Nema in 2017 showed more than 50 per cent of livestock had ingested plastics.

In Summary

• Scientists have warned that there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050 unless people stop using single-use plastic items.

• Plastic pollution has over time surfed onto beaches, settling onto the ocean floor and rising through the food chain onto dinner tables.

Plastics bags
BANNED: Plastics bags
Image: FILE

In the lead up to the UN summit being held in Nairobi, Unep has named Kenya as an emerging leader in the fight against plastic pollution and among the first countries in East Africa to sign the Clean Seas initiative.

Responding to these developments, Greenpeace Africa Senior Political Advisor, Fredrick Njehu has said It is encouraging that Kenya's environmental stewardship has been acknowledged worldwide.

Both officials and ordinary citizens have fought against the menace that single-use plastic has become in Africa.

"However, the threats to our country's efforts remain real. President Biden has put on hold any new free trade agreement negotiations with our government, which may have opened the floodgates to plastic imports if the American Chemistry Council (ACC) lobbying proved successful. But, the deal is not completely off the table as it should be," Njehu said.

Both countries have a joint responsibility to make trade right for the people and the planet, and not just free for corporations.

Any trade and investment agreement between the two countries must exclude any imports of plastic waste into East Africa. 

Kenya has invested heavily in both policy regulations and law enforcement to win the fight against plastic pollution.

Nema recently launched a new wave of surveillance to heighten checks on the outlawed plastic bags across the country.

"Our government must be firm and must stay true to its efforts against the plastic pollution crisis which is exacerbating climate emergencies,"  he added.

Single-use plastics and the resulting pollution has been cited as one of the biggest catastrophes of our generation and a major threat to biodiversity.

"The banned plastic bags are back in town again and the county directors of the environment have clear instructions to ensure that they put proper crackdowns within the next one week and sustain these efforts," Nema director general Mamo Mamo said in February.

It is estimated that about five trillion macro and micro-plastic pieces are floating in the ocean, making up 60-90 per cent of marine debris.

Scientists have warned that there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050 unless people stop using single-use plastic items.

Plastic pollution has over time surfed onto beaches, settling onto the ocean floor and rising through the food chain onto dinner tables.

In 1950, the world's population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tonnes of plastic, while in 2016, a global population of more than seven billion people produced over 300 million tons of plastic – with severe consequences for marine plants and animals.

A study supported by Nema in 2017 showed more than 50 per cent of livestock had ingested plastics.