Kenya’s ban on single-use plastic in protected areas, such as beaches, forests and national parks, came into effect on Friday, June 5, 2020 to coincide with World Environment Day.
“The ban underlines the government’s commitment in addressing the plastic pollution menace,” Najib Balala, secretary for tourism and wildlife, said in a statement.
Kenya banned single-use plastic bags in 2017, but the government later decided to expand this initiative.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the revised restrictions last year.
Environmental group FlipFlopi welcomed the news, saying it would prohibit visitors from carrying plastic bottles, cups, disposable plates, cutlery and straws into conservation areas.
“We have witnessed the catastrophic effect single-use plastics have on our ecosystems and our communities,” said Dipesh Pabari, project leader for FlipFlopi, which built a sailing boat out of waste to raise awareness of the scourge threatening the world’s oceans.
“And now, during the [coronavirus] pandemic, we are witnessing first-hand what happens when we destroy our planet,” he said.
However, activist James Wakibia told dpa: “I would have preferred it if the ban were countrywide, and not just in protected areas,” adding that most plastics get into those areas via other channels, such as rivers, rather than the main gates.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry said research showed a decline in plastic bags in coastal areas since the 2017 ban.
“This shows that the polythene bags ban intervention had a direct impact in reducing the amount of marine litter reaching the oceans,” it noted in a statement.