Up plastic pollution war

The failure to realise the great expectations from the recent global plastics conference in Nairobi is a big reminder that this major source of environmental pollution will continue to wreak havoc on Earth.

In the run-up to the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1), there was excitement that a major step towards protecting life on the planet would be realised. But the discussions did not yield a solid plan after the deal collapsed at the last minute. Oil-producing countries, including Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the United States, a major plastic manufacturer, threw a spanner into the works.

A treaty is still needed to tackle plastic pollution as a human and environmental crisis for the most affected communities. It was just about safeguarding the interests of the countries that immensely benefit from the manufacture of plastics.

There is, of course, deep disappointment but the struggle is not over yet. There will be another chance next year for the delegates to come up with a more effective strategy to get the world to speak with one voice on this pollutant that is an eyesore, especially in developing countries.

Kenya, which won accolades six years ago for banning single-use plastic bags, should not relent in its efforts to enforce the law in a bid to curb pollution. The disposal of plastics at dumping sites and on roadsides provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes, fuelling the spread of malaria, as well as other pathogens that cause various other diseases.

Now is the time for the authorities to, once again, get inspired by fellow East African Community member state Rwanda and effect the ban on plastics by stopping their sale and manufacture and also prevent the smuggling through airports and other ports of entry. The law is there; all that is missing is its strict enforcement to prevent environmental pollution.