The major environmental issue of plastic pollution is nothing new, but the seriousness of the issue is being increasingly highlighted around the world in recent months. Current statistics state that around 300 million tons of plastic is produced every single year, and 78 percent of it is not recycled. Plastic products each 450 to 1000 years to break down into smaller pieces as they are not biodegradable and the plastic is never entirely gone. A huge 8.8 million tons of that plastic ends up in the oceans, where it remains to be a very serious threat to around 700 species of marine animals who either ingest the waste, get caught in it and suffocate, or are constantly exposed to the highly polluted waters.
Due to the extremity of the current waste situation, many countries are trying to come up with innovative solutions to reduce the amount of plastic waste. The most recent of these is a complete ban on the manufacturing and importing of plastic bags in Kenya. The order, that was given by the country’s Environment Minister Judi W. Wakhungu, was published in a notice on February 28, 2017, that has just been released to the public.
The new ban will go into effect six months from now, with the hope that plastic bags used for both commercial and household packaging will be a thing of the past.
The United Nations Environmental Programme reported that around 100 million plastic bags are now distributed every year solely from supermarkets in Kenya. This figure makes plastic bags the biggest waste disposal challenge in the country, and particularly in the most impoverished communities. According to the Washington Post, similar prohibitions on plastic bags were introduced in Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania, and Malawi. Although a ban on plastic bags seems like a relatively small and simple move, it can help the problem of plastic pollution tremendously, and hopefully sets a mark for the rest of the world to follow.
IMAGE CREDIT:whitcomberd / 123RF Stock Photo
I am Jess Murray, wildlife conservationist, photographer, and writer. I like to document the natural world and create awareness through my writing so that your future can be sustainable and positive. Follow my Facebook page and Instagram account to be part of the journey.