The ban on plastic bags has been lauded as a decisive step by the government to help clean up the environment. Even as the public awaits a survey to establish just what has changed since the ban was imposed over a year ago, there is evidence of a decrease in polythene paper floating around.
In Nairobi, the apparent reduction in flooding along the roads, even in the city centre during the recent rains, is an indication that the perennial problem of clogged drains could be easing. However, there is still plenty of work to do. The use of plastic bags by supermarkets has been discontinued, but some petty traders still clandestinely pull out one for a shopper who needs it.
But what should alarm all even more is the haphazard disposal of plastic bottles. It’s quite fashionable for people attending conferences or just going about their business to carry water bottles. This is a necessary evil that needs to be watched keenly. Plastic bottles thrown into the roadsides by motorists and their passengers is as much litter as the outlawed thinner polythene paper.
The problem of plastic pollution, as has been noted at the ongoing blue economy conference in Nairobi, is being felt in the oceans, lakes, rivers and other water bodies.
This could end up hampering the prospect of harnessing ocean and other water resources for economic growth.
Indeed, the next phase of the campaign against plastic pollution should focus on this area, as the envisaged recycling is not helping as much as it should.
Plastic waste that ends up in the ocean, rivers and lakes, poses a grave threat to marine life and on the ground to domestic and other animals that ingest it. Proper disposal is essential as it is almost impossible to get rid of all types of plastics.