Plastic ban a major step in achieving green economy goals

Kenya banned plastic bags on August 28, joining the global trend of phasing out such carriers. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya banned plastic bags on August 28, joining the global trend of phasing out such carriers. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

The ban on plastic bags in Kenya, while seen as an isolated activity, is part of a larger plan to implement the green and blue economies being pursued by the government in order to escalate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The ban effected on August 28 is being implemented within the country’s effort to actualize the Climate Change Act 2016, which together with the Constitution provides for Kenyans to live in a healthy environment.

Its part of the country’s path to the realisation of the SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production and promotes the principles of reduce, re-use and recycle and Paris Climate Change Agreement, to which she is a signatory.

Outside the protests by the manufacturers and employees in the sector, many policy documents seem to promote the ban and would have prepared stakeholders over the years, as the country continues a development agenda that respects both local and international obligations.

Plastics are a menace to the environment and pose serious health risks to land living things as well as being lethal to the lives of oceanic animals and plants.

The ban is not ad hoc as it may appear; the blame goes to the responsible government agency for a poor public communication and stakeholder awareness strategy as its well within the larger circular economy principle which is part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.

Kenya, being a signatory to the SDGs, has a responsibility to promote natural resource utilization that ensure that manufacturers only make the kind of products including plastics that can be recycled and re used.

That is why there is an exemption on some types of plastics.

With the passing of both the Climate Change Act 2106 and the Fisheries Management and Development Act 2015 and the subsequent policy frameworks, Kenya was on the pathway not only to banning environmentally unfriendly substances including plastics, but also made a statement on her commitment to pursue an economic growth and development model that ensures that natural assets are exploited while at the same time continuing to provide the resources and environmental services on which her citizens well-being relies.

Additionally in Kenya, a number of laws and bills enacted to promote green growth economy among them the Environmental Management and Co-ordination (Amendment) Act 2015, Vision 2030, Energy Act 2012 and Green Economic Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) 2016-2030. Towards this end, the country will be reporting globally on the progress it has made towards achieving the green economy as a member of the Global Green Growth Forum during the Copenhagen summit to be held in April 2018.

Already the country through the Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust and with the support of the Royal Danish Embassy in Kenya have planned a national conference in October to showcase technologies as well as provide platform for dialogue and discussions.

The country’s Green Growth Strategy recognises investing in the following building blocks can increase profits for producers, save money for consumers, and improve the environment: economic efficiency, low carbon development, investing in natural capital and ecosystem services and efficient markets that internalize all social and environmental costs.