The materials used to make every day plastic items are harmful to human health yet we still make plastic because we need it. It is the medium through which we transport and store food, medicine, water, and just about everything else.
The ban on plastics is yielding positive results in the form a cleaner environment. However, the search for environmentally-friendly and affordable alternatives to plastic carrier bags is still on.
Every day, tons of plastics are scavenged from various water bodies around the world. These plastics cause immeasurable damage to fragile ecosystems both on land and at sea. Cleaning up micro-plastics from the oceans requires concerted efforts by stakeholders across the board, and time is ticking.
Four years after Kenya outlawed single-use plastic bags, enforcement has not been without its challenges. Griffins Ochieng spoke with Mamo B. Mamo, the Director General (DG) of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), who outlined the progress so far and what should be done to rid the country of the plastics menace.
The 2017 ban on plastic bags, which won Kenya international applause, did not come out of the blue. It came after a decade of sustained pressure from citizens and lobby groups who had had enough of the devastating effects of plastics.
Refuse handlers work under very difficult conditions, exposing themselves to dangerous toxins, often with little or no protection. Sadly, despite helping to keep the environment clean, they get little recognition.
The quantities of recycled plastic in Kenya remain insignificant, but the long-term ecological cost of disposing plastic waste in the environment will be immeasurable.
While recycling is the preferred solution of plastic producing corporations, it is not environmentally sustainable as recycled plastic eventually returns to the environment leaving the original problem intact.
Even as Kenya’s land-based resources continue to shrink because of a rapidly growing population, microplastic pollution of Kenya’s Indian Ocean is putting in jeopardy the country’s maritime resources.