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NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Judy Wakhungu (3rd,L), Kenyan Minister for Environment  and Natural Resources flags off a clean-up exercise during the launch of a Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) sector group through a clean-up exercise of PET products at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. 

Kenyans launching new campaign to clean up plastic bottles

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Friday launched a campaign towards eradicating plastic wrapping materials from the environment.

Judi Wakhungu, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, said that the clean-up exercise against Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is in line with the government’s commitment to manage solid waste in the country.

“Plastic related products are a common environmental menace and needs to be removed from the environment,” Wakhungu said at the launch that was attended by officials from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM).

She noted that after banning the polythene bags five months ago, the government is also beginning to address pollution caused by PET bottles.

“Kenya is committed to honor global efforts towards the prevention, mitigation and management of air, water, soil and oceans pollution,” she noted.

PET polyester is used for packaging foods and beverages, personal care products and other consumer products.

They are highly favored due to its desirable properties and its use has increased significantly in the last few years. In Kenya PET is primarily used to package soft drinks, milk and drinking water.

Just like other plastics materials, PET has been associated with pollution of the environment due to its non-bio degradable nature especially when littered indiscriminately on land and in water bodies.

Wakhungu said that the ban on the use of disposable bottles in Karura forest in the outskirts of Nairobi and the National Reserves and Game Parks has been successful in helping conserving and protecting animals and nature within the ecosystem.

“We are proud of this achievement and we will continue consulting regional and international stakeholders in environment pollution management,” she noted.

According to government statistics, there are a total of 176 plastics manufacturing companies in Kenya in 2016. The plastics industry in Kenya generated a turnover of 10 million U.S. dollars and employed over 60,000 people.

Flora Mutahi, KAM chairperson observed that the industry embraces the circular economy concept and is looking out for various ways to supporting the creation of an effective after-use plastics economy.

“We recognize the need to create new circular systems that conserve resources, reduce pollution and promote efficiency since packaging is integral to the delivery of safe, high-quality consumer products,” she noted.

Mutahi called on Kenyans to embrace proper disposal habits, particularly of PET bottles which are mainly littered along the roads, in water bodies and public areas.

The government and KAM plans to intensify clean-up operations as one of the initiatives in mitigating the challenge in waste management in the country.

This approach has been adopted following a successful PETCO South Africa model which runs an industry driven and financed environmental solution for post-consumer PET plastic.

The model provides a solution for post-consumer plastic packaging which is critical in minimizing its impact on the environment.

The move comes immediately after the end of third United Nations Environmental Assembly meeting in Nairobi last week that resolved to sustainably use natural resources alongside developing a pollution free planet.



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