Kenya's plastic bag ban earns praise from leading US newspaper New York Times

“There is no excuse for the rest of the world to wait.”

The New York Times has lauded Kenya’s recent ban on plastic bags and urged the rest of the world to take similar action.

In an editorial piece titled "Follow Kenya's Lead on Plastic Bags”, the newspaper said that the initiative will contribute greatly to efforts to protect the planet's oceans while helping prevent flooding caused by clogged storm drains.

The editorial pointed out the ‘flying toilets’ used by poor residents of Nairobi in the absence of a functioning sewage system and of public toilets that don’t charge a fee. The leading US newspaper noted that these human waste-filled bags clog trenches leading to the Nairobi River and have been blamed for the flooding that regularly menaces the city.

“The solution,” the Times suggested, “is to provide more toilets and latrines.”

Dozens of countries, including China and France, have banned, taxed or limited use of plastic bags, the paper noted. California, it adds, became in 2014 the first US state to ban plastic bags.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has launched a “clean seas campaign” to eliminate single-use plastic bags by 2022.

“Kenya and more than 40 countries are acting now to help meet this goal,” the Times says.

On August 28, the Kenyan government imposed the world's toughest law against plastic bags. A Kenya Gazette notice signed by Environment cabinet secretary Judi Wakhungu outlawed the manufacture, import, sale or use of plastic carrier bags in the country.

Failure to adhere to the law will attract a fine of up to Sh4 million or a two-year jail term.

The ban has led to loss of thousands of jobs as manufacturers suspended operations to avoid steep fines stipulated under the law.

On the contrary, makers of alternative carrier bags are doing booming business, while supporters of the new law cite its potential to check environmental pollution by the non-biodegradable plastic bags.

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