While most of the world is only complaining about the pollution hazard, Kenya is taking some serious steps to deal with this issue. The High Court in Kenya announced a decision on Monday that puts a heavy ban on the usage of plastic bags. Anyone violating the law will be fined up to $38,000 or four years in prison.
This is one of the harshest punishments for plastic usage in all of the world, and this is not the first time Kenya has taken such measurements. In the last ten years, the country has imposed such a ban three times, and this time even manufacturing and importing the plastic bags is included in violation.
It sounds like a very thought-out initiative, but that does not sit well with everyone. All people that make their living out of the plastic recycling industry are now threatened to lose their jobs of plastic collection and resale to manufacturers.
More than 40 countries in Africa have established similar laws including Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, and Mauritania. However, none of them imposed a penalty as strong as Kenya did. Judi Wakhungui, the Minister of Environment, says,
“The problem with this is that now we are also ingesting these microplastics. And this is a danger to our health. Ordinary wananchi will not be harmed.”
The word Wananchi means “common man,” so the law is mostly targeting the manufacturers and sellers.
Kenya is an agricultural country that is still in the process of development, and the effect of plastics is quite visible. Mbuthi Kinyanjui, a veterinary officer, stressed the hazards that come with the plastics saying,
“We noticed we are pulling more and more plastic papers out of animals or out of the stomachs of these animals, so I would say these are growing concerns.”
Every country deals with waste removal and management in different ways, but it is a problem that cannot be avoided completely. Many are emphasizing to avoid the use of plastic that has lead to the formation of an informal waste recycling industries in the developing countries. This exposes the workers to many health risks as they skim through debris and waste for hours and hours all day.
Although these laws are meant to protect the environment, they do bring those thousands of people in their wrath that solely depend on waste plastic for their living. Laws should be made keeping in mind the needs of these people or atleast provide them with alternate forms of work.
Laws are meant to help people, not destroy their source of living! What do you say? Comment below.