Kenya im­poses world's tough­est law against plas­tic bags

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Development -

Kenyans pro­duc­ing, sell­ing or even us­ing plas­tic bags will risk im­pris­on­ment of up to four years or fines of $40,000, as the world's tough­est law aimed at re­duc­ing plas­tic pol­lu­tion came into ef­fect last month in the coun­try.

The East African na­tion joined more than 40 other coun­tries that have banned, partly banned or taxed sin­gle use plas­tic bags, in­clud­ing China, France, Rwanda, and Italy.

Many bags drift into the ocean, stran­gling tur­tles, suf­fo­cat­ing seabirds and fill­ing the stom­achs of dol­phins and whales with waste un­til they die of star­va­tion.

Plas­tic bags take be­tween 500 to 1,000 years to break down, said Habib El-Habr, an ex­pert on ma­rine lit­ter work­ing with the U.N. En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme in Kenya. ElHabr said plas­tic bags en­ter the hu­man food chain through fish and other an­i­mals. In Nairobi's slaugh­ter­houses, some cows des­tined for hu­man con­sump­tion had 20 bags re­moved from their stom­achs.

Kenya's law al­lows po­lice to go after any­one even car­ry­ing a plas­tic bag. But Judy Wakhungu, Kenya's en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, said en­force­ment would ini­tially be di­rected at man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers.

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