Kenya bans plastic bags - with a four-year prison term for those who don't comply

Anyone heading to Kenya might be wise to pack an extra cloth bag or two.

The country has banned plastic chopping bags - and anyone caught breaking the law could be hit with a four-year jail term or a fine of up to £30,000.

The new law, which comes into force today, forbids using, importing or making plastic bags.

Lawmakers say the bar is necessary to deal with the growing mountain of waste from disposable bags handed out by shops.


Plastic bags are currently handed out in Kenya each year by supermarkets.

Discarded bags litter the streets of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, and contribute to towering piles at dump sites.

The Kenyan government says the bags harm the environment, block sewers and don't decompose.

By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, says the UN. Credit: PA

Plastic bags have long been identified as a major cause of environmental damage and health problems, killing birds, fish and other animals that mistake them for food, said the UN environment agency.

They also damage agricultural land, pollute tourist sites and provide breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever.

Similar bans on the disposable bags have been implemented in other African countries such as Cameroon,Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi.

Plastic bags contribute to the eight million tons of plastic carried into the ocean every year.

At current rates by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, according to the UN agency.