President Uhuru Kenyatta has banned the usage of single-use plastic products in all protected areas as Kenya seeks to curb plastics hazard, just two years after the country banned the use of polythene carrier bags.
Visitors to national parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas will not be allowed to carry disposable plates, cups, straws, spoons, forks and water bottles, which are considered major environmental pollutants.
The ban, announced in Canada where the President addressed the opening plenary of Day 3 of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, will take effect on June 5, 2020.
Plastics have become a major nuisance for the environment with many littering the oceans, forests and even blocking drainages.
"Sustainable environment is a guarantee to a healthy, better and productive society. And that is why women and girls who are key victims of unsustainable practices must own this campaign as part of the gender equality campaign," President Kenyatta said.
The conference focus is on gender equality, the health rights and wellbeing of girls and women across the globe under the theme: ‘Power, Progress, Change’, through which it seeks to inspire women to take up their position in bringing positive change in their societies.
The President’s order comes just days after the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) raised a red flag over the possible return on the use of plastic bags.
Kenya outlawed the use of plastics carrier bags in 2016 and has been considering extending the ban to other single-use products.
It is not clear why the President singled out the protected areas in the Wednesday ban.
But, a source at the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife told the Nation that the enforcement in protected areas has not been effective with visitors carrying in the polluting agents and dumping them.
About eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the Indian Ocean yearly, according to the UN Environment Department.
Tonnes of water bottles and other plastic waste is collected from oceans, especially during coastal clean-up days.
Plastics have also been found in marine animals’ stomachs,
In 2017, Kenya joined 40 other countries in the fight against ocean and sea pollution as part of interventions to roll back the consequences of an increasingly polluted planet.
The country signed to take part in the United Nations Environment #CleanSeas campaign that aims at countering the torrents of plastic trash degrading oceans and seas and endangering the life they sustain.
The 40 countries within coastal lines, from Kenya to Indonesia and Canada to Brazil, account for more than half of the world’s coastline.
They also committed to fight against marine litter and ocean pollution, and announced measures including drives to increase recycling in their respective countries.