• Sammy Melnick

Two Years Ago, Kenya Set The World’s Strictest Bank on Plastic Bags

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Kenya is considered to have the strictest penalties in the world, making manufacturing, importing or selling single-use carriers punishable by a prison sentence of up to four years or fines up to $40,000. Anyone caught using them also faces a fine, which so far has been between $300 and $1,500, and a possible prison sentence of up to a year.

But there are some exceptions to the law: certain kinds of single-use plastic bags are still allowed for garbage bin liners, medical waste, construction and for packaging foods like bread, as well as the use of cling film (like Saran wrap).

Two years on, as the country prepares to roll out new limits on more single-use plastic items ― banning plastics from parks and beaches effective June 2020 ― the success of Kenya’s bag ban remains mixed. 

Officials, activists and local vendors are among those who say the law is responsible for cleaner streets and there is some evidence that plastic bag use has been drastically reduced. But, even with the harsh penalties, plastic bag pollution hasn’t been completely eliminated in Kenya, and plastic bags ― both legal and illegal ― continue to make their way onto the country’s streets.

And one of the biggest questions remains: How do you create a bag ban that works?

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Planet First Foundation is an environmental nonprofit  charity that is committed to reducing reliance on single-use plastics in increasing recycling to reduce our footprint.

Founded in the United States in 2019 by Samuel Melnick, Planet First Foundation is focused on becoming one of the most effective organizations targeting a reduction of the excess creation of non-recyclable waste.  Scientists have long recognized that plastics biodegrade slowly, if at all, and pose multiple threats to wildlife on land and in oceans through entanglement and consumption.  More recent reports highlight dangers posed by absorption of toxic chemicals in the water and by plastic odors that mimic some species’ natural food.


Our task is not an easy one ... Between 1989 and 1994 the beverage industry spent $14 million to defeat the National Bottle Bill.  But plastic ends up buried underneath tons of trash.  Its harmful toxic chemicals  leach into the ground and into groundwater potentially contaminating drinking water supplies, rivers, streams, and eventually the ocean.

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