03-09-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
The United States is asking Kenya to be "softer" in its struggle to protect the environment by phasing out plastic from its territory.
As is known, the Kenyatta government immediately after its inauguration passed the law abolishing the use of polyethylene bags.
It took a few months (and several fines, especially to companies producing and importing plastic bags) to make Kenya "plastig bag free", with a turning point in which few believed for such a large country, which was not Rwanda that first gave a signal to the entire continent.
After this decision, Kenyatta had announced that on June 5 last year the ban on the introduction of plastic bottles into the country's parks and nature reserves, including marine reserves, would come into force. The law has passed even though its beneficial effects will be seen as well as the real application with the return of tourism.
The Ministry of the Environment had also made it known that the next move could have been the abolition of plastic bottles on the entire territory.
At this point, the United States, which is the largest exporter of plastics in Kenya (with sales totalling 6.21 billion shillings last year, as documented by the US Congress last May) and number one in the whole of Africa, both for semi-finished and finished products, pushed by their oil giants, began to complain diplomatically and put up stakes in trade negotiations.
Recently, Donald Trump met with his Kenyan counterpart to sign a series of bilateral treaties, which include numerous American aid and subsidies in various sectors.
There was a strong demand from the Trump government to curb the country's anti-plastic policy.
The same oil companies producing plastics and exporting crude oil waste to be processed, have expressly asked not to be put in trouble.
Rather, they say, they are ready to collaborate in recycling projects and subsidize the purchase of disposal plants and to raise Kenya to the role of hub for the supply of their products throughout Africa. And yet smart recycling would be exactly what makes it possible not to produce more plastic.
In the meantime, the continental group of environmental activists of Greenpeace has also asked the Kenyan government to reject the move of the American chemical companies that has the clear intention of expanding the footprint of the plastics industry in Kenya and throughout Africa.
According to a Greenpeace survey, also published in the New York Times, the three oil sisters Shell, Exxon and Total also lobbied against changes to the Basel International Convention, which set new limits on the amount of plastics entering low and middle income countries.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry Betty Maina told the American media that the United States has not yet made an official request, but Fredrick Njehu of Greenpeace Africa urged Kenya not to backtrack on the progress made in its release from plastic, bowing to pressure from fossil fuel giants, because it risks derailing progress across the continent.
"Thanks to the example of Kenya and other nations, Africa is at the forefront of the war on plastics, with 34 countries out of 54 having adopted a regulation to phase out disposable plastic".
Plastic bag banning, the Kenya Ministry of the Environment is serious about it.
After announcing the total ban on plastic bags for August 28, he has now published fines and penalties for those who do not respect the law.
From September 2017 no more plastic bags in Kenya.
Great news for environmental protection.
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