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A tough new law against the production, sale, and use of plastic bags has come into effect in Kenya.
The new legislation – the strictest in the world – will see Kenyans making, selling, or using the bags fined up to $40,000, or even jailed as part of a clampdown on plastic pollution.
The country joins a number of others – including France and Italy – that have banned, partly banned, or taxed single use plastic bags.
The bags – which can take between 500 and 1,000 years to degrade – can cause havoc to sea creatures, including dolphins, turtles, and whales.
Animals can be strangled by the bags, or can die of starvation after mistakenly eating them.
Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the U.N. Environment Programme in Kenya, said: “If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish.”
The law took three attempts to pass, as it is unpopular with some manufacturers.
Samuel Matonda, spokesman for the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, said: “The knock-on effects will be very severe.
“It will even affect the women who sell vegetables in the market – how will their customers carry their shopping home?”
He added that as a major bag exporter, the ban could cost up to 60,000 jobs, and force 176 manufacturers to close in the country.