Marine debris. (Photo: NOAA)
Govt. introduces measures to stop plastic litter flow
Tuesday, September 05, 2017, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
The Government of Kenya has introduced measures intended to stem the flow of plastic litter into the environment, closing a long-term effort.
As a result, anyone caught producing, selling or even carrying plastic bags will fall foul of the law and can face imprisonment of up to four years, besides fines of up to USD 40,000, The Times of Malta reported.
With the measure, Kenya joins over 40 other countries which have totally or partly banned or taxed the use of plastic bags within their territory, including China, France and Italy.
In 2015, the European Parliament endorsed a new directive which aims to stem the increased adoption of single-use plastic bags across Europe. The new directive requires Member States to progressively reduce their use of plastic bags, with an initial threshold of 90 bags per person per year by 2019, followed by 40 bags in 2025. It was estimated that in 2010 an average of 198 plastic bags per person per year were being made use of across Europe.
The initiative taken in Nairobi may come across as drastic but the statistics for the global presence of plastic is sobering. For instance, according to the Science Advances magazine, an estimated 6.3 billion tons of plastic litter grace our planet at the moment, which is roughly equivalent to an average of one ton per every inhabitant of the world.
In 2015, global plastic production rates totalled 322 million tons, up from 230 million tons in 2005 and certainly up from 1.4 million tons produced in 1950, marking a 200-fold increase in annual plastic production rates over the span of 65 years.
These rates are anticipated to double within the next 20 years and to quadruple by 2050, when plastic production is expected to guzzle up to 20 per cent of all oil production, a pronounced spike from the current five per cent.
The ubiquity within the marine environment of plastics is such that even deep-sea canyons, located at depths of thousands of metres within the northwestern corner of the Mediterranean, have been found to be sullied by plastic litter through ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) surveys conducted by IFREMER (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea).
All this plastic is shoved to dumps or finds its way directly to the environment, with an estimated refuse truckload equivalent of plastic ending up in our seas every minute. In fact, despite the staggering volumes of plastic being produced, just five per cent of all plastics are recycled at a global level. Three-quarters of all litter recorded in the sea originates on land, with the rest being dumped directly through shipping and fishing vessels.