Starting Friday the 5th June 2020, it will be illegal to take any single-use plastics into Kenya’s protected areas.
The government has released guidelines describing protected areas to include national parks, national reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, national monuments such as the Kaya forest, world heritage sites such as Sibiloi National Park, Ramsar sites such as Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Lake Elmentaita, Lake Baringo and the Tana River Delta, protected forests and all beaches.
Some of the single-use plastics materials that have been banned include cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers, sticks for balloons and balloons, food containers, cups for beverages, beverage containers (PET bottles), cigarette butts, plastic bags, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, bread bags and all confectionery wrappers, and wet wipes and sanitary items among others.
Of the sanitary items, diapers have been banned but not sanitary pads.
The institutions that will directly be immediately affected by this ban include the hotel establishments that are found in protected areas.
Implementation of the ban will be straight forward for game parks where those entering will be asked to leave the materials in bins. Already some parks including Karura Park in Nairobi have been doing this for many years.
At the moment it is not clear how the ban will be implemented on public beaches and what penalties defaulters will be subjected to. We will continue to update as we get more information.
This ban comes into place one year after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive in 2019.
This ban is also followed by another national ban on single-use carry plastic bags which was implemented in 2017 and which remains largely successful and is a major victory for environmentalists in the country.
Many will however see this ban only as a piecemeal remedy to the growing problem of plastic pollution in the country.
PET bottles continue to be one area of biggest concern especially since the industry’s corrective actions of offering subsidies to collectors through PETCO Kenya has failed to turn the tide. In 2019, over 50,000 metric tons of PET were not collected and remain in the environment. This problem is only going to grow as production increases and collection and recycling fail to catch up.
Enforcement on banned single-use plastic bags is also proving problematic especially in the last few months with the emergency of the Corvid-19 pandemic. Some fractions of the plastics have started being widely used, especially among the informal businesses.