Media organisations, schools and environmental groups in Nairobi are to take part in a public education drive starting mid-April on the responsible use and disposal of plastic bags. The message is simple: re-use plastic bags, recycle them and stop using them if possible. The campaign is being organised by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) as part of a one-year pilot project on plastic waste management in the Kenyan capital.

Plastic makes up 20 per cent of the waste generated in Nairobi every day according to Practical Action, an environmental advocacy group involved in the project. Of this, only about 25 per cent is collected, while the remainder litters the streets, choking animals and blocking drains, or is gathered into piles and burned, releasing dangerous chemicals into the air.

Launched in July 2005, the UNEP/NEMA programme aims to formulate and implement policy measures for sustainable urban waste disposal in Nairobi. In addition to the public information campaign, activities include the creation of community-based plastic recycling projects, which are due to launch later this month.