Kenya: Let Plastics Ban Stay

2 September 2020

Banning plastics is one of the most remarkable policy decisions by the government in recent times. Its impact has already been greatly felt across the country. It was a bold move and though some businesses suffered losses, it was not in vain. The greatest achievement has been reduced blockages of drains and trenches and the danger and eyesore of plastic litter.

Today, the plastics that would be strewn all over the highways are no longer there. Of course, the plastic pollution has not been totally eliminated, but there has been laudable progress.

Even more important is the heightened awareness about the danger from the careless disposal of plastics. However, with the tangible gains made, many will be alarmed to hear that Kenya has come under pressure from the United States to lift the ban.

The past three years since the country passed a tough laws on the production, sale and use of plastic bags have been great and the benefits should be jealously guarded. At stake is our environment and when adversity sets in we will be the laughing stock all alone. The government must reject the reported move by American chemical firms to expand the plastics industry into Kenya and Africa, at large.

The global environmental activist group, Greenpeace, is spot on here in its caution to turn down the Americans. Plastic is reportedly the biggest US export to Kenya, with sales totalling Sh6.21 billion last year.

That is a huge amount of money, but the adverse impact on the environment and the people from the plastic population would be much greater.

We have an assurance from Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina that the US is yet to table a request to make Kenya a hub for supplying chemicals and plastics to the African market. It should not even be considered, as a reversal of the plastics ban would be a horrendous betrayal of the people.

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