By Edna Mwende
Visitors to national parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas will not be allowed to carry disposable plastics after President Uhuru Kenyatta banned the use of single-use plastic products in all protected areas in an effort to combat the plastic menace in the country.
According to a news report by Daily Nation, President Kenyatta announced the ban that will take effect on June 5, 2020 when he addressed the opening plenary of Day 3 of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, Canada.
“Sustainable environment is a guarantee to a healthy, better and productive society. And that is why women and girls who are key victims of unsustainable practices must own this campaign as part of the gender equality campaign,” President Kenyatta is quoted as saying by the Daily Nation.
Plastics have become a major environmental hazard with many littering the oceans, forests and even blocking drainages.
The Daily Nation report pointed out that a source at the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife speaking to the local daily said that the implementation in protected areas has not been effective since tourists are the ones carrying the polluting agents.
The President’s order comes just days after the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) raised alarm over the possible return of the use of plastic bags.
Kenya banned the use of plastics carrier bags in 2016 and has been considering extending the ban to other single-use products.
Tonnes of water bottles and other plastic waste is collected from oceans, especially during coastal clean-up days and about eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the Indian Ocean every year, according to the UN Environment Department.
Kenya, as reported by Daily Nation in 2017, signed up to take part in the United Nations Environment #CleanSeas campaign that aims at dealing with the torrents of plastic trash degrading oceans and endangering the life they sustain.
The country also joined 40 others in making a commitment towards fighting against ocean and sea pollution as part of interventions to roll back the consequences of an increasingly polluted planet.