Plastic bag bans are spreading. But are they truly effective?
Kenya has the strictest penalties for bag use, but the consumer alternatives to plastic have come with growing pains.
Nakuru, KenyaIn the open-air Wakulima Market thin plastic shopping bags have disappeared, banished by Kenya’s national bag ban. Produce sellers in this busy agricultural hub 95 miles northwest of Nairobi now pack perishables in thicker bags made of synthetic fabric.
As James Wakibia, citizen activist, leads the way along narrow walkways that snake around vegetable stalls, he shrugs at the irony. Plastic bags replaced by plastic bags. He is the 36-year-old face of the social media campaign that prompted the ban in 2017 and says an imperfect ban is better than none.
“Okay, they are polypropylene, but they’re reusable and they’re not the thin bags that can be carried by the wind,” he says. “The UN says that Kenyans were using