Kenya on Thursday outlawed the manufacture and import of plastic bags from March for damaging the environment, the environmental agency said.
“We are telling Kenyans that we need these changes,” acting NEMA agency chief Ayub Macharia said.
The ban is on bags up to 0.06 millimetres (60 microns) in thickness which winds often carry hundreds of kilometres (miles) from their source of origin.
“Our country has many colours and when God was creating the world, he only allowed plants to give us flowers, so when our landscape becomes flooded with many artificial flowers of varied colours due to poor management of plastic bags and wrappers, then it becomes a problem,” said Macharia.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards has been tasked with overseeing the change “through factory inspection and ports of entry surveillance and monitoring,”
A 2007 attempt at cleaning up the country by banning the manufacture and import of bags of up to 0.03 millimetres (30 microns) widely failed.
Of all five members of the East African Community – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – only Rwanda has so far successfully banned all plastic bags since 2008, and replaced them with paper bags.