Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags risk up to four years’ jail or fines of $US40,000 under the world’s toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution.
The East African nation on Monday joined more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single-use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda and Italy.
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.
“If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish,” said Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the UN Environment Programme in Kenya.
Plastic bags, which Dr El-Habr says take between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, also enter the human food chain through fish and other animals.
In Nairobi’s slaughterhouses, some cows destined for human consumption had 20 bags removed from their stomachs.
“This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now its almost on a daily basis,” said county vet Mbuthi Kinyanjui as he watched men in bloodied white uniforms scoop sodden plastic bags from the stomachs of cow carcases.
Kenya’s law allows police to go after anyone even carrying a plastic bag, but…
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