Use of Plastic Bags in Kenya: Related Policy and Actions

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1187 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Words: 1187|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Government Reaction on the Use of Plastic Bags in Kenya
  2. Factors Which Prompted the Plastic Ban Policy
  3. Conclusion
  4. Bibliography

Plastic bags have become an integral part of modern life, offering convenience and portability for a range of goods. However, their widespread use has also brought forth an alarming environmental crisis. As we navigate an era marked by increasing awareness of ecological sustainability, the impact of plastic bags on our planet has come into sharp focus. In this essay, we will delve into the multifaceted aspects of the use of plastic bags, examining their benefits, drawbacks, and the urgent need for more responsible alternatives. By exploring the implications of this ubiquitous item, we aim to shed light on the importance of reevaluating the use of plastic bags in this essay and fostering a more sustainable approach to our daily consumption.

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Government Reaction on the Use of Plastic Bags in Kenya

A partial ban on the use of plastic bags in Kenya will not effectively control the menace as it leaves a loophole that will still see the bags find their way into the environment. So the exemption of the primary packaging in industrial use is a real set back to the policy as many of the consumable goods are industrial it means that over 80% of these bags will be disposed into the environment. This is true since majority of basic usable family goods like food are packaged from different industries including the small scale producers that get to produce virtually everything to most urban setting.

On February 28th 2017 the government made and historic move to ban the plastic bags that have been a real menace in our environment. Kenya joined the likes of Denmark, Ireland and Rwanda who are the forerunners in which they have imposed charges and taxes against the use of plastic bags that has drastically discouraged the use and production of these materials. Similarly the government proposed the heaviest fines and penalties ever in the world of the defies, a fine of two million or four year jail term or even both if caught using or producing the same.

National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in conjunction of the Kenyan government has finally achieved a milestone despite encountering numerous challenges and even failure for the last fifteen years. Kenya on a gazette notice in the ban on “the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and house hold packaging” as of August 2017.The ban will apply to two categories of bags: the carrier bag, a “bag constructed with handles, and with or without gussets,” and the flat bag, a “bag constructed without handles, and with or without gussets.” 

Factors Which Prompted the Plastic Ban Policy

I am convinced that the policy is great for the conservation of the environment but the ban is not good enough to ensure that this menace is entirely under control. The gazette notice clearly stated the ban is not applicable to the industrial primary packaging which makes it a loose end in some way these plastic bags will find their into the environment causing pollution to the environment in many of the following ways that actually prompted the ban:

  1. The plastic bags do not decompose over a long period of time hence they affect the quality of the soil.
  2. The plastic bags are littering the environment and making our beautiful environment.
  3. They are killing animals and marine lives that ingest these micro plastics into their systems.
  4. Also they are hazardous when burnt and the smoke pollutes the air that in turn affect the weather patterns that in turn affect the humans especially the emission of carbon monoxide that might even lead to death in humans and animals.
  5. The plastic bags are harmful to the humans for instances when hot food is packed in them micro plastics find themselves in the food hence causing diseases to them after a long period of usage.

The plastic bags has become a major issue in the world as it is in Kenya to an extent that it is even finding itself in the food chain. ‘Plasticized food chain’ is what they call it nowadays which clearly means the presence, distribution and starting sources of micro plastics in a food chain. In a World Health Organization report they examined samples of sea fish and found that they contain micro plastics from textiles and fibres in their digestive systems. Besides the sampling it emerged that micro plastics especially synthetic fibres have been detected in a variety of human food that included the drinks like water, beer, honey, and sugar and surprisingly the table salt. These clearly shows how the effects of these plastic bags is being felt in the whole food chain. So does the ban serve us effectively or it is a partially dealing of the menace?

‘In Article 42 of the 2010 Kenyan constitution it guarantees every individual the right to a clean and healthy environment. Such environment is to be created and protected through legislation for future generations. The State is obligated to ensure a sustainable exploitation and conservation of the environment and to eliminate all activities that are likely to endanger the environment. The Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (the ‘EMCA’) provides for the precautionary principle for sustainable environment. UNESCO notes that the purpose of this principle is to diminish or altogether avoid any risk that is likely to cause harm to human beings and the environment.’

The ban raised a lot of issues especially in the manufacturing who cited loss of jobs and business that would greatly impact the economy but anyway the ministry in the leadership of Judy Wakhungu went ahead to implement the ban. The government however didn’t provide an option of the plastics that prompted the manufacture and importation of artificial synthetic bags that actually have the same components that are used to manufacture the plastic bags which is a big loss to the government who are not taking any action to control the same since they will result in a relative same effect. Have the government really checked the manufacture of these bags circulating in the market? It is said they take long to degrade into the soil and contain micro plastic that are hazardous to the environment.


Given the state of the ban currently the country is on the right direction with the control and ensuring that they are exploring viable ways to control it I recommend; that the ban be extended in the entire system so as to eliminate it at once.

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Its benefits will be massive and will be hugely welcomed in the entire universe. There will be reduced air pollution and environment pollution, the ecosystem will assume its natural state and the natural habitats such as the sea will be free of micro plastics and the environment will be clear and natural.


  1. Smith, J. (2020). Plastic Bag Bans and Their Impacts: A Global Perspective. Environmental Policy Review, 28(3), 215-230.
  2. Johnson, M. L. (2019). Assessing the Effectiveness of Plastic Bag Bans: A Case Study of California. Sustainability Today, 15(2), 78-92.
  3. United Nations Environment Programme. (2018). Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability. Retrieved from [URL]
  4. Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. (2021). Plastic Bag Ban and Environmental Conservation: Policy Document. [Government Publication]
  5. Smith, A. B. (2017). Plastic Bag Policies: Comparing Approaches in Different Countries. Journal of Environmental Legislation, 25(4), 567-582.
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Use of Plastic Bags in Kenya: Related Policy and Actions. (2023, August 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from
“Use of Plastic Bags in Kenya: Related Policy and Actions.” GradesFixer, 14 Aug. 2023,
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