Plastic pollution is one of the most serious threats to the planet's health. Single-use plastics are polluting the majority of ecosystems from rainforests to the world's deepest ocean trench. When consumed by fish and livestock, plastic waste ends up in our food chain.
By 2050, the UN estimates that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, unless governments and the private sector promote more resource-efficient design, production, use and sound management of plastics throughout their life cycle.
Kenya is taking a bold step in this direction. This year, the country will mark World Environment Day by banning single-use plastic in protected natural areas.
Following a presidential directive on last year's World Environment Day, the ban will come into effect on 5 June 2020 in National Parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas, which means visitors will no longer be able to carry plastic water bottles, cups, disposable plates, cutlery, or straws into protected areas. The move follows Kenya's ground-breaking step of a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags in 2017.
"By banning single-use plastics in its parks and protected areas, Kenya joins the rest of the world in setting the agenda for the sustainable management of waste in conformity with this year's World Environment Day theme," said Juliette Biao, Africa region director at UNEP. "Only 3 years after Kenya introduced one of the world's most efficient laws on single-use plastic bags, this latest measure provides the necessary momentum as nothing exemplifies nature better than our wildlife and biodiversity."
Outlawing single-use plastics in pristine landscapes that are home to iconic plant and animal species is part of Kenya's green agenda.
"The preservation of our environment is tied to our well-being and the well-being of future generations. This ban is yet another first in addressing the plastic pollution catastrophe facing Kenya and the world, and we hope that it catalyses similar policies and actions from the East African community," Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, said.
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