President Uhuru bans single-use plastics in protected areas

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday announced a ban on the use of single-use plastics in protected areas that takes effect in the country by 2020.

The Head of State made the announcement while delivering his speech in Vancouver, Canada to commemorate the World Environment Day and it will cover national parks, forests and beaches, and will become effective on 5th June 2020.

He said Kenya is a trailblazing nation with regards to environmental protection and conservation, noting that the main actors in this are women.

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This latest ban by the Jubilee administration comes two years after Kenya banned the use, manufacture and sale of environmentally harmful plastics, polythene bags and packaging materials.

"As you are aware, Kenya is hosting to the global environment programme, and has remained a campaigner for a sustainable environment,” said the president while making his closing remarks at women global conference.

He went on, “In light of this commitment as a follow up to the ban on polythene bags and packaging materials, this leadership was paved by a distinguished Kenyan woman, Prof. Wangari Maathai.

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He commended the role of the late Prof Wangari in environmental conservation.

“Her vision saw her receive the first Noble Prize in recognition of her work for the environment and the empowerment of women,” he stated.

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Kenyatta announced, "Building on this, today (Wednesday) we are announcing another ban on single use plastics in all our protected areas, including: National Parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas, effective 5th June, 2020.”

In 2017, ex environment Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof Judy Wakhungu successfully imposed the ban, coming with stiff penalty to those4 who defy. The $38,000 fine with the alternative of a four-year jail term saw many people preferring to comply with the ban.

Wakhungu said then that the plastic bags take between 20 and 1,000 years to biodegrade but manufacturers of the bags argued that 80,000 jobs could be lost.

Several other African countries have outlawed plastic carrier bags, including Rwanda, Mauritania and Eritrea.

Kenya is among the East African nations that joined more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy.

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Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation.

Addressing plenary session of the ongoing Women Deliver 2019 Conference at the Vancouver Conference Centre, Mr Kenyatta stressed that sustainable environment is a guarantee to a healthy, better and productive society. 

He argued that this is the reason why women and girls who are key victims of unsustainable practices must own this campaign as part of the gender equality campaign. 

The President commended Canada for its leading role in the promotion of women rights through the Feminist International Assistance Foreign Policy.

He lauded the approach, saying it is changing the way the world views the place of women rights across the spectrum of issues in society.

"If the world is to prosper, offer good value of life to its citizens, offer good leadership that responds to the aspiration of its population, it must draw from all its peoples, and not just depend on about half of its population," he said.

Present at the conference attended by thousands of world leaders were Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs) and her Public Service counterpart Prof Margaret Kobia.

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Uhuru KenyattaWorld Environment DaySingle-use plasticsPlastics ban