A Kenyan ban [Kenya Gazette, PDF] on plastic bags officially went into effect [press release, PDF] Monday, six months after it was announced in February. The ban applies to Kenyans producing, selling or using plastic bags and carries a punishment of up to USD $40,000 or imprisonment of up to four years. Although the ban has a wide target audience, it will initially be enforced to target manufacturers. The plastic bags covered under the ban include carrier bags with handles and flat bags without handles. Kenya joins more than 40 other nations [Reuters report} that have enacted similar laws, but Kenya’s is far more stringent than all of the others to date. Kenya hopes the ban will greatly reduce plastic pollution, but this goal is estimated to come at the expense of around 60,000 jobs lost.
Reducing pollution has long been a goal of countries all over the world. In June a group of environmentalists sued [JURIST report] the UK government alleging that the country’s proposed plan for reducing the UK’s air pollution was inadequate. In March an Indian Court granted [JURIST report] the Ganges and Yumana rivers the same legal rights as people in an effort to protect them from being polluted. In February UN human rights experts called for [JURIST report] global leaders to take action by enacting strong anti-pollution legislation and strictly enforcing it. Earlier in February the European Commission gave final warnings [JURIST report] to Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK Wednesday for failing to address air pollution. Also in February New York’s governor signed a bill [JURIST report] blocking fees for using plastic bags. In November a California plastic bag ban [bill, PDF] went into effect after it had been halted [JURIST report] by a referendum petition.