Plastic pollution has become a serious global concern for both people and the environment. Plastic output is projected to multiply within the next 20 years on a business-as-usual paradigm with the current rate of population growth. Asian and African coastal regions generate a disproportionate amount of plastic garbage due to their high population density.
Few countries have become leaders in the fight against plastic pollution in the search for environmental sustainability quite like Kenya. This lively country, which is located in East Africa, has begun a remarkable journey towards a future free from the burden of plastic pollution. Kenya’s dedication to decreasing plastic pollution serves as a symbol of the world’s realization of the disastrous ecological effects of single-use plastics. Kenya’s dogged pursuit of a plastic-free future acts as a light of hope and inspiration as the rest of the globe struggles with growing environmental issues.
Kenya produces less garbage than the average country in the world: in 2018, the country’s per-capita waste production rate was 11 kilos, compared to the global average of 29 kilograms. But 92% of that waste is improperly managed. In actuality, collection services are nonexistent in rural areas. This causes leakage into ecosystems on land and in the ocean. Regarding plastic, an estimated 37,000 tons per year leak into the ocean, 67% of which originate in metropolitan areas. The issue is expected to worsen by 2060, 1.9 million metric tons of plastic will be produced annually.
Plastic pollution in Kenya
In Kenya, plastic bags were an everyday occurrence. Kenyan stores alone used over 100 million plastic bags each year, and at least 24 million of those bags are wasted each month. Beneath the weight of plastic bags, Kenya was suffocating.
Kenya did, however, outlaw single-use plastic bags in 2017, and this revolutionary action was applauded worldwide. According to the National Environmental Authority, 80% of the populace abided by the ban. Single-use plastics were outlawed in parks and forests, as well as other protected areas, in 2020.
Notwithstanding the bag ban’s effectiveness, it hasn’t been sufficient to end the nation’s problems with plastic pollution because it excluded many other types of plastic, such as bottles, trash bags, and takeaway containers. This led to plastic garbage getting into several ecosystems, including the oceans, rivers, and habitats for wildlife. Given the severe circumstances, coordinated actions are required to combat this threat.
One of the African nations most severely affected by plastic waste is Kenya. For decades, the nation has struggled with plastic garbage, and things have gotten worse recently. Single-use plastic items like straws, bags, and bottles account for a sizeable amount of plastic trash in Kenya. Because of how frequently these goods are utilized around the nation, disposal is a major issue. The majority of plastic garbage is not recycled, and as a result, it either pollutes the environment or winds up in landfills.
Kenya’s issue with plastic garbage has negative effects on both the environment and public health. The garbage blocks rivers and streams, causing flooding and destroying aquatic life’s habitats. It also has an impact on soil, water, and air quality, which impacts both human and animal health. As plastic debris burns, it emits damaging greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to climate change.
Kenya’s response to plastic pollution
As one of the first nations in East Africa to restrict single-use plastics and sign the Clean Seas program to clean up rivers of plastic trash, Kenya emerged as a pioneer in the fight against plastic pollution in 2021. an acknowledged step toward a future without plastic.
The government was praised for prohibiting plastic bottles, glasses, and silverware in its national parks last year, a decision that came after a countrywide ban on plastic bags. Juliette Biao is the Regional Director for Africa for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). She added that the nation’s initiatives to stop the flow of plastic into its rivers were crucial for lowering marine trash.
Kenya has made significant investments in legislation and enforcement to win the battle against plastic pollution. As an outcome of this investment, Kenya’s environmental stewardship in Africa and the rest of the globe is currently improving.
Kenya’s national and devolved county-level governments devised a plastic waste management system that could be expanded and duplicated throughout the East African region and beyond, working directly with communities and in conjunction with the commercial sector as well as UNEP.
When Kenya outlawed single-use plastic bags in 2017, the country made headlines. Prior to that, the nation decided to join the Clean Seas program, making it one of the first African countries to pledge to reduce the amount of plastic in its waterways.
A sustainable waste management law that will go into effect in July will mandate that businesses lessen the environmental and polluting effects of the goods they offer to the Kenyan market, either independently or through group initiatives. The new producer-responsibility laws have received positive feedback from environmentalists. By 2024, regulations describing the new law’s operation will have been introduced.