A plastic straw on a madafu drink. FILE PHOTOA plastic straw on a madafu drink. FILE PHOTO
By FAITH NYAMAI

Kenya will soon ban the use of plastic straws used to drink sodas and milks that are distributed freely by shops and supermarkets to customers.

Ministry of Environment Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli has disclosed that plans are underway for the ban to be gazzetted and encouraged Kenyans to start training themselves to use a glass or drink juices directly from the packaged bottles.

“Our main goal as a ministry is to ensure that we reduce the use of plastics in the country as they are a major source of pollution,” he said.

Mr Sunkuli said so far, the ban of plastic bags has had 80 percent success implementation despite a few challenges that has affected the process, among them importation of plastic bags from neighboring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania.

The announcement of the straws planned ban, comes barely a week after the National Environment Management Agency (Nema) announced they will ban plastic bags by April 30.

However, Mr Sunkuli said the ministry has been encouraging plastic bottle manufactures to start up take back schemes across the country to deal with the plastic waste menace in the country.

RECYCLING PLANT

But Nema said they have been engaging stakeholders to find a solution by establishing a recycling plant for the plastic bottles.

Last week, Nema’s John Konchellah said, they were in the process of drafting a gazzete notice.

Though it could be a boast for environmental conservation, the ban will come as a major blow to manufactures and business people who depend on the bottles to package their products such as mineral water, juices, soda, oil and other fluid products.

About 50 million plastic bottles are used in Kenya annually and many of them are hardly recycled, making them an environmental risk, besides clogging drainage systems.

As early as 1997, Nema estimated that 1,530 tonnes of solid waste were being produced in Nairobi on a single day. The bulk of this waste was made of plastic bottles and plastic bags.

Mr Sunkuli said plastic solid waste and paper bags a major threat to the environment.

A ban on plastic bottles and the straws will leave manufactures with the difficult task of finding alternative ways of packaging their products.

PLASTIC BOTTLES

Already some manufactures have started using glass bottles.

Talks to find a solution to dealing with plastic bottles started two months ago.

Environmental experts have also being asking how the government will deal with plastic papers used to package bread, sweets and milk.

The government has been making major steps in dealing with pollution in general.

Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems.

Some seven million people die each year globally just from breathing unclean air.

Burning of plastic bottles and bags has also been a major contributor of air pollution. Air pollution is the single biggest environmental killer, claiming 6.5 million lives each year.

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