After 10 years of debate and delay, Kenya has finally approved the world’s strictest plastic bag ban.
The ban punishes the import, manufacturing, or selling of single-use plastic bags with either 4 years in jail or a $38,000 fine.
While authorities are currently enforcing the legislation amongst retailers and manufacturers, citizens will be given more time to adjust. If a shopper is seen carrying a plastic bag, they will be given a warning and have their bags taken away.
Many stores are already beginning to offer fabric bags for ¢10 apiece.
Since Kenya is one of the biggest exporters of plastic bags – reportedly consuming over 24 million bags per years – the legislation was rejected several times before it was approved last week.
The country is now one of forty other countries that have taken action against single-use plastic bags, such as China, Rwanda, and China. The Bangladesh government was the first to do so in 2002.
Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, and their increased presence in oceans and water sources is dangerous to wildlife and the environment. Kenyan cows have become more likely to accidentally consume plastic bags, thus increasing their chances of suffocation or injury.