Non-biodegradable, plastic bags thinner than 60 microns are regarded as non-reusable are causing an environmental hazard and are problematic to recycle, according to campaigners.
A 2005 report by the United Nations Environmental Program, National Environment Management Agency and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, claimed that around 100 million plastic bags are freely given to consumers in supermarkets, grocery stores and kiosks every year and very few of these are recycled or reused.
Organisers of the petition claim these very thin, one-use plastic bags are a ‘disaster-in-waiting’, choking lakes, rivers and blocking major drainage systems in Kenyan towns.
In fact, according to a report by Magdalene Wanja (Daily Nation, October 2, 2014), a total of 24 tonnes of plastic was collected in 2013 from the shores of Lake Nakuru alone.
The amount of plastic bags and wrappers in our rivers is staggering.
The Kenya Wildlife Service reported that the lake would soon be “too toxic for the current aquatic life as well as herbivores that often eat the same non-biodegradable material leading to their deaths”.
Also, the burning of these bags, which is common practice in Kenyan landfills, contributes to air pollution by releasing harmful carbon when burned.
Organisers of the petition warn that an outright ban is the only workable solution.
We have already demonstrated our inability to protect the environment by reckless dumping, a citizenry that is unaware and does not care, government agencies that do not work, and NGOs that have forgotten their calling.
They claim that a ban on plastic bags thinner than 60 or even 100 microns is the only way to “cure this malignant tumour eating Kenya” and that the only plastic bags to be manufactured in the country should be both reusable and recyclable.
Recently the campaign was seeing support online with #BanPlasticsKe and #ISupportBanPlasticsKe trending on Twitter in Kenya.
In the UK, a 5p charge was placed on plastic bags in supermarkets to encourage the use of reusable carriers.
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