Kenya’s plastic bags ban earns praise from The New York Time


Nema Board Chairman John Konchellah (right) and Director-General Geoffrey Wahungu (left) display some of the eco-friendly carrier bags that will be in use after the ban on plastic bags. The New York Times has urged the rest of the world to also ban the use of plastics. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

TheNew York Times has praised Kenya's ban on plastic bags and urged the rest of the world to take a similar action.

Such an initiative will contribute greatly to efforts to protect the planet's oceans while helping prevent flooding caused by clogged storm drains, the Times said in an editorial titled "Follow Kenya's Lead on Plastic Bags".

The leading US newspaper pointed specifically to the “flying toilets” that clog trenches leading to the Nairobi River.

The Times noted that these waste-filled plastic bags have been blamed for the flooding that regularly affects Kenya's capital city.

The ban could cause problems for poor Nairobi residents who rely on the bags “in the absence of a functioning sewage system and of public toilets that don't charge a fee,” the editorial acknowledged.

“The solution,” the Times suggested, “is to provide more toilets and latrines.”

Dozens of countries, including China and France, have banned, taxed or limited use of plastic bags, the paper noted.

California, it adds, became in 2014 the first US state to ban plastic bags.

The United Nations has meanwhile launched a “clean seas campaign” to eliminate single-use plastic bags by 2022.

“Kenya and more than 40 countries are acting now to help meet this goal,” the Times says.

“There is no excuse for the rest of the world to wait.”

On Tuesday, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) warned that anyone found carrying the banned plastic bags will be arrested.

Nema said it is now embarking on strict enforcement of the ban, two weeks after the Ministry of Environment banned the use of plastic carrier bags.

Following the ban, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) called on the government to scrap tax on alternative eco-friendly carrier bags to make them affordable and enhance compliance with the ban.

Cofek secretary-general Stephen Mutoro said the cost of alternative carrier bags offered by supermarkets and retail outlets is prohibitive and out of reach of many Kenyans.

“At between Sh40 to Sh100, on average, the bags are way too expensive,” he said.