In the world over, plastics have proved to be a great menace, not only to human beings but also to the environment. This is despite their critical use in the society. Having been made of up of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds, they are non-biodegradable and will therefore not decompose once consumed by any living organism or when damped to the environment. The ills of plastics cannot be underestimated.
Littered plastics have been consumed by animals who eventually die. At the Dagoretti Market abattoir for instance, slaughtered cows have been found with large amounts of plastics in their stomachs. Recently in Philippines a dead whale was found with over 40 kilogrammes of rice sacks and other plastic bags in its stomach. Plastics are also allegedly causing cancer because of their chemical composition which ostensibly has not undergone any health or ecological risk appraisal.
The recent Plastics Bags Control and Management regulations that were implemented by the government through the National Environment Management Authority banned all plastics carrier and flat bags, terming them as an environmental hazard. This was a move that was largely accepted by Kenyans who are cognizant of the ills of plastics. It is also in line with global standards and practices being adopted by most nations.
The United Nations Environment Programme and the World Resources Institute have also offered recommendations regulating the manufacture, sale, use and disposal of single-use plastics. This has drawn the attention of states throughout the world who are now working on finding alternatives to these hazardous products.
In America, Hawaii is among the first states to prohibit restaurants from giving plastic straws while California, San Francisco and other states have also banned the single use of plastics. The recycling of plastics needs to be considered as one of the ways of controlling their manufacture. Any commodity bought in a plastic package ought to have a directive that the plastic container should be returned.
A redacted version of this article has been published on The Standard by the same author