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Tour operators work together to protect parks from plastic bags

By David Gichuru | July 17th 2020

Music artist and radio presenter Anto NeoSoul joins tour firm operators and consultants in collecting bottles and plastics around the Nairobi National Park, Magadi road (PHOTO: David Gichuru)

The problem of plastic pollution in Kenya’s national parks has been too big for any single organisation to fix on its own.

In realizing the magnitude of the problem, Kenya on June 5 enforced a ban on single-use plastics in protected areas
The banned single-use plastics (SUPs) include disposable plastic water bottles, disposable cutlery, non –woven plastic carrier bags, plastic cotton bud sticks, confectionery, and snack wrappers, disposable sanitary items, wet wipes, single-use toiletries packaged in plastics, among others.

To aid the government realize national parks free from single-use plastic bags, experts say changes and partnerships need to take place across the whole tourism value chain.

It is with this in mind that Tour Operators’ Society of Kenya (TOSK) partnered with Kenya Wildlife Service together with other like-minded organizations to make concrete and actionable commitments on no single use of plastics in Kenyan parks.

The initiative will be implemented in all the parks in Kenya and will sensitize tour companies, hospitality facilities, host destinations, tourism associations and NGOs through sharing of information about the plastic pollution challenge and the solutions being implemented across the sector.

Other areas of implementation will focus on promoting innovation and facilitating the cooperation between governments, local organisations, and businesses.

Also consolidating the progress reported by all signatories and establishing a performance benchmark.

Plastic pollution is one of the major environmental challenges in the present time and a growing concern for tourism destinations.

Each year, a staggering eight million tonnes of additional plastic end up in the world’s oceans.
Much of the plastic used in tourism is made to be thrown away and often can’t be recycled, leading to large amounts of pollution.

With 80 per cent of all tourism taking place in coastal areas and the bush, plastic pollution from tourism can easily end up in oceans and waterways like Lake Victoria.

In-land and urban tourism can also contribute to park plastic pollution, with huge amounts of plastic pollution ending up in rivers and getting carried into our oceans.

Each year up to one million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles, and countless fish die because of plastic pollution.

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