Plastic waste is a global problem. Plastics and micro plastics are ubiquitous. Unknowingly people absorb plastics as part of food and drink. The Cocos Islands, formerly a paradise on earth, have become a landfill of plastic waste for all oceans. Third world countries lack effective plastic waste management systems.

Every year, Kenyan supermarkets had issued tens of millions of plastic bags to customers. The bags contaminated the landscape and clogged the outflow channels. During the rainy season they contributed to the floods. The slaughterhouse workers found plastic bags in about half stomachs of the cattle kept near towns.

High Penalties

Kenya decided to ban the use of plastic bags two years ago. The ban applies to the production, sale and distribution of plastic bags.

There is a fine of up to $ 40,000 or up to 4 years in prison for the manufacture, import, or distribution of plastic bags. You can be fined $ 500 to $ 1500 or a year in prison for using the banned bags.

Approximately 300 penalties have been imposed since the ban came into effect. Each offense is assessed individually. Imprisonment was imposed on several individuals who repeatedly violated the ban.

The Results Are Coming

The government of Kenya states that about 80% of the population has stopped using plastic bags. According to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), fewer plastic bags are found in the stomachs of cows, which is considered a visible result of the ban. The situation on the streets has improved and the watercourses are not so messy.

Supermarkets and much of the retailer no longer offer plastic bags. However, some small traders offer transparent bags that are likely to be illegally carried by smugglers from Uganda and Somalia. Small traders argue that alternative packaging is up to 6 times more expensive.

Other Countries Attitude

Rwanda has banned using plastic bags from 2008 and Morocco from 2017.

In the EU there has been a ban on free distribution of plastic bags to traders since the beginning of 2018. Some European supermarkets have already exchanged plastic bags for paper ones.

Some countries have concluded a pact to restrict imports of plastic waste. Supermarkets in Vietnam and Thailand use banana leaves instead of plastic bags to pack vegetables.

Canada has announced a proposed federal ban of single-use plastics which could come into effect as early as 2021.

And how can each of us help? The most environmentally friendly solution is to use long life textile bags.