NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – The government has banned the use of plastic bags from the end of August this year.
In a Gazette Notice dated February 27, Environment Cabinet secretary Judy Wakhungu revoked the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.
A law aimed at encouraging the re-use of paper bags or the use of alternatives to reduce plastic waste generation had proposed a fine of up to Sh3 million or a jail term of up to 12 months or both for shoppers found using polythene bags.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) members last year moved to push for the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill, 2016 which is aimed at providing a legal framework for the preservation of a clean and healthy environment through the prohibition of manufacturing, sale, importation and use of polythene materials.
At the same time civil society campaigners across the East African region united in their call for total ban on use of polythene bags seen as also posing health risks to citizens.
The light non-biodegradable plastic bags – primarily used for packaging at retail stores – have been cited as a top environmental hazard in the country.
Kenya has previously tried to rein in pollution from polythene materials but lax enforcement has left many suburbs and rivers choking with the waste.
Tanzania, Rwanda are some of the countries that have since enacted a national law which bans the use of plastic bags, with Uganda indicating willingness to fully implement a law on control of polythene materials which it passed in 2009.