Kenya Bans Plastic Bags

Posted In News, Pollution


Excerpt from the AFP

Early this year, January 9th, Kenya outlawed the manufacture and import of plastic bags for damaging the environment, effective in March.

“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.

Original Article

Building a Plastic Bottle Boat: in Kenya

By Reynard Loki, OpEd News


Tourists regularly leave plastic water bottles on Kenya’s beaches. One man decided to do something about it, in the form of a boat

Known as Kenya’s oldest living town, Lamu is the largest town on Lamu Island, part of the Lamu Archipelago. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu is one of the original Swahili settlements on the East African coast.

It is also the site of lots of plastic trash, thanks to irresponsible tourists. But one man decided to turn all that waste into something quite useful for this port town, a boat.

According to, a website devoted to African ingenuity, this young man wakes up early in the morning and goes to the beach to collect plastic bottles that are either left by tourists or washed ashore from the sea. Using boiled tar, he seals the gaps with used slippers also collected from the beach.

“Most marine debris found in the oceans is plastic, according to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP).

“This pollution harms and kills an estimated 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals, and 1,000,000 sea creatures each year. Many marine animals, not just sea turtles, mistake plastic bags for food, ingest them, and are unable to digest them. As a result animals can suffer intestinal blockage, nutrient dilution, and may starve to death.”

The plastic bottle boat of Lamu is not yet complete. And while this is a wonderful example of plastic waste recycling, hopefully Kenya’s tourists will wise up and stop leaving more material for this young man’s ingenious and commendable project.

plastic pollution

This was an other response to the increasing levels of plastic rubbish on the beaches of Kenya.

It involved walking up and down the beach hunting down and spearing plastic with a metal pole. Having completed the length of the beach, Sam, a young artist, would then plant the pole in the sand as a totem for passers by to see.

“It felt that collecting all the rubbish on one pole would make the quantity of plastic more visible. I was also aware that as a European collecting rubbish on a Kenyan beach I was performing an unusual role. I hoped that my action would cause onlookers to question their own personal responsibility as both tourists and locals would wonder why I was doing it.”

The project culminated with the installation of a public bin on the beachfront.

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