The quest to rid our environment of hazardous plastic bags has reached full cycle. A government ban on the plastics now comes to force on Monday, and that is a reality Kenyans must reconcile with.
A case brought in court to suspend the ban has been pended, so the order remains.
It has been a long walk to get rid of the plastic bags that have become a veritable menace to the environment.
Banning plastics is fraught with perils. Straightaway, manufacturers and dealers in plastics have to close shop and shift to another business.
And with that, thousands of jobs are at risk, including those in the retail chain. Tied to that is loss of revenues for government in the form of taxes.
Even so, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Use of plastic bags has put the environment under grave threat.
They do not decompose, they block sewerage and water drainage, damage the ecosystem and emit poisonous gas when burnt.
Such levels of environmental degradation pose serious danger to human, animal and plant life. Economic progress and national prosperity is a consequence of a clean environment.
Countries like Rwanda long outlawed the use of plastic bags and today boasts of a clean and safe environment.
The economy is booming and all indicators are positive. So, there is reason to be optimistic that the ban augurs well for the country.
However, questions abound. What are the alternatives to plastic bags? Are they available in the market? Where can the public get them?
What happens with the plastic bags still in circulation? Should we destroy what we have in our houses instantly or is there a lead period for transition?
The Ministry of Environment and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) have these well-mapped out.
Manufacturing and use of the plastics end on August 28, period! But that information has not reached everyone in the chain, especially at the grassroots.
Plastics must go, but the authorities need to intensify and diversify public education to clarify issues and reach the width and breadth of the country to guide the public appropriately about the transition.