Treasury allocates Sh20m for plastics war


Plastic waste at a dump site in Kisii. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Treasury has allocated Sh20 million to finance removal of plastics in the country's protected areas as State steps up war on the non-biodegradable materials.

The money has been allocated to environment and wildlife department to help clear the plastic bags in the financial year starting July 1.

Budget estimates indicate a plan to spend a further Sh20 million in removing the cumbersome waste in 2021/22 and a similar amount in 2022/23 financial years.

Kenya imposed the ban on polythene carrier bags on August 28, 2017. Two years later, the country banned the use of all single-use plastic in conservation areas which took effect on June 5, 2019.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the ban on single-use plastic in June last year while speaking at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference at the Vancouver Conference Centre in Canada.

The ban on single-use plastic came just over two years after President Kenyatta’s government banned plastic carrier bags and flat bags on August 28, 2017.

Single-use plastics are to be disposed of or recycled. Some of the materials that fall under this category include grocery bags, food packaging materials, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.

The ban affects use of plastics in beaches, national parks, forests and other areas.

There are 23 terrestrial national parks, 28 terrestrial national reserves, four marine national parks, six marine national reserves and four national sanctuaries as well 372 gazetted forests.

These are the areas considered most vulnerable to the polluting effects of single-use plastic.

The ban forbids visitors to a forest or a national park from carrying plastic plates, cups, spoons, forks and straws.

Up to 73 percent of waste in aquatic ecosystems is non-biodegradable. Fifty percent of the waste accounts for items that have been disposed of after single use.

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, about eight per cent of the Kenya’s land mass is protected area for wildlife conservation.

Protected areas are gazetted landscapes or seascapes that have been surveyed, demarcated and gazetted either as National Parks and or National Reserves.

In Kenya, protected areas embrace various types of ecosystems namely forests, wetlands, savannah, marine, arid and semi-arid.

Environmentalists praised the ban on plastic carrier bags and single-use plastics arguing it will help to minimise pollution of urban spaces, forests and water bodies.