Four years in jail for having a plastic bag. This is the maximum penalty in Kenya. Fines are $19.000 to $38.000 – and penalties are the world’s harshest.
Tourists are warned: Don’t import or carry plastic bags.
Kenya is adjusting to life without plastic bags after a strict ban on the carriers went into effect this week. Traders in Nairobi swapped out the cheap lightweight plastic bags for cartons, paper bags, and envelopes, while grocery stores sold reusable fiber bags and cardboard boxes.
Elsewhere, restaurants in Nairobi are packaging food deliveries in spare shoe boxes and other containers. Photos of a school girl in eastern Kenya who improvised a bag made out of dried banana leaves circulated social media. Others tied string around their vegetables for easier transport. Residents have been asked to drop off their plastic bags at local grocery stores.
The ban marks the third time officials have tried to cut down on the use of the bags in Kenya, where an estimated 100 million plastic bags are given out by supermarkets every year. Previous attempts, which focused on bags of a certain level of thickness, were never fully carried out. Today, the bags litter most Kenyan roads and clog sewers and streams, damaging soil and water sources, as well as the animals that consume the plastic bags.