Plastic waste ban only way to go in curbing the menace


I disagree with the sentiments expressed by Alex Kiarie on the business value of plastic waste (Daily Nation, March 28).

He argues that we can increase the value of plastic papers to raise their demand for use — just like the scrap metal concept.

Kenyans are very enterprising; therefore, if the plastic bags had value, we could hardly see any around.

Kiarie ignored the chemistry behind plastic bags and why it’s a menace in Kenya.

We have other non-biodegradable materials — such as glass bottles and polystyrene cups — but you will never see them littering because they have value.

Plastic bottles are always collected, even by street boys, for recycling because they have value.

It’s expensive to recycle plastic bags since they don’t melt easily and are often not realistically able to be re-used from its original form.

Plastic bags have unique problems and are burdensome.

For retailers, the cost of plastic bags is very low. Made from ethylene, a by-product of petroleum or natural gas, plastic bags are so cheap and flimsy that cashiers use them freely, double-bagging as a matter of course and often sticking just a few items in each, mostly in supermarkets.

As a result, shoppers end up with piles of plastic bags spilling out of closets and threatening to take over cupboards.

Most plastic bags end up in landfills, lakes and oceans and take 300 years to photo-degrade.

They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain.

There is no disposal method that will really help to eliminate the problem since burning emits toxic gases that harm the environment.

Kenyans should adopt the use of re-usable cloth bags in a bid to protect the environment.

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I wish to commend the government for the recent ban on plastic bags.

However, the authorities must extend their focus to risks posed by all types of plastic and rubber family products — including plastic plates and bottles as well as tyres.

One thing you notice as you pass by the Donholm interchange (Outering/Jogoo/Lunga Lunga roads junction) is a sea of old tyres.

Such a large accumulation of tyres poses a health and environmental hazard as tyres are not biodegradable.

Second is the tendency for such tyres to be burned at night to extract wires. Burning of tyres should be banned.

Part of the reason why Mlolongo and Kitengela residents wake up with blocked noses is such toxic smoke from burned tyres, chimneys from neighbouring industries and substandard incinerators.

Third, and equally dangerous, is the sale of such tyres, disguised as fit to use, to unsuspecting motorists. The authorities must address this matter. They cause accidents.

Tyres that fail the integrity test should be confiscated or sold to companies that have the capacity to degrade them under a controlled environment (I understand there is a new company that has this technology but little is heard about it).

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