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Kenya should lead the fight against plastic pollution in Africa

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[From Left: Joachim Paul, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (HBS), Regional Director - Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda, Fredrick Njau - Programme Coordinator Sustainable Development. Photo/Courtesy].

The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (HBS), has unveiled a campaign aimed at fostering dialogue to end plastic pollution in the country as stakeholders call on the government to put up stringent measures to end plastic pollution in the country.

Speaking during a dialogue on unpacking the resolution to end plastic pollution which was adopted by UNEA, Nairobi in February this year, hbs Nairobi Office Director, Joachim Paul, noted plastic pollution is a problem which cannot be ignored anymore and needs concerted efforts from all the stakeholders to find a lasting solution to end the problem.

“Plastic production and pollution require concerted efforts from everyone because the impact of this crisis is putting pressure on the planet which is linked to the climate change and food crisis that we are currently experiencing,” noted Paul.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) over 400 million tons of plastic are produced each year, with half of that amount used to create single-use items such as shopping bags, cups and straws.

At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic debris is now the most abundant type of litter in the ocean, accounting for 80% of all marine debris discovered from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.

Early this year, member states signed a resolution to have a treaty by 2024 to end plastic pollution

In Nairobi for instance, it is estimated that 2,400 tons of solid waste are generated every day, 20% of that being plastic form, mostly single use plastic like as straws, bottles and packaged consumer goods.

Programme Coordinator, Sustainable Development at hbs, Fredrick Njau urged policy makers not to allow the country to be used as a dumping ground for plastic waste by developed nations through trade agreements.

400 million tonnes of plastic are produced annually and only less than 10 percent is recycled.

Plastics take over 400 years to degrade which is dangerous to the environment, humans and animals, said Njau.

Speaking at the same forum which was held at Baraza Media Lab, Amos Wemanya, Power Shift Africa’s Senior Advisor on Just Energy Transition, stated that Kenya lacks infrastructure to manage both biodegrable and non-degradable waste and there is need to protect developing countries through global regulatory framework to ensure no plastic waste is dumped in the country.

According to Wemanya, it is time companies that depend on plastic to consider alternatives in readiness for a plastic treaty in 2024. With only, two years for the resolution to be tabled, Wemanya said, Kenya has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by going a further step and ridding off the country single use plastic such as PETs.