Kenya has introduced a ban on thin plastic bags and imposed a 120 per cent tax on thick ones in an attempt to reduce environmental pollution in the country. The measures have also come into force in Uganda. They follow similar initiatives in Rwanda and Tanzania in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Kenya association of manufacturers (KAM) has reacted angrily to the move, saying it will increase the cost of doing business and put people out of work. However, most Kenyans support the initiative and supermarket giant Nakumatt has said it will start supplying re-usable carrier bags for customers at its stores.
Two million plastic carrier bags are distributed to shoppers each year in Nairobi according to a UN-backed report released in 2005. Many are so flimsy that they can only be used once. In the absence of efficient rubbish collection and disposal the discarded bags usually end up in the streets, where they block drains and sewers, causing flooding during heavy rainfall, choke animals and pollute the soil.