Wakibia goes global with his campaign on ending plastic pollution

For many years clean-up exercises have been carried out on rivers in Nakuru such as River Njoro and River Ndarugu.
The exercises are done to aid unchoke the rivers from the plastic waste that always find their ways into the environment.
However, environmental activists have continued to querry on such moves and solutions that can be done to aid the same.
Nakuru based Environmental activist James Wakibia states, “rivers do not produce plastics and cleaning them
therefore will not end pollution. We need to address the source of the problem and that is from the source.”
He is however quick to note that such cleanup exercises should not stop, but there is need for effort in finding
sustainable ways to end plastic pollution.
“I have led various clean-up activities, and frankly speaking, cleanups are like administering first aid to an injured person. We clean today and the plastics keep flowing and accumulating,” he says.
Wakibia who successfully spearheaded the ban on Plastic bags in Kenya is now going global with his campaign against plastics polution.
Through his collaboration with Portsmouth University Revolution Plastics, the Nakuru’s Rongai born son is now making it to the Global World.
Wakibia who has matters environment at heart is among delegates attending international conference in United Kingdom’s  University of Portsmouth.
In his speech at the conference on Revolution Plastics, Wakibia stated that the conference is key in coming up with solutions to end plastic pollution.
“This is coming at a time when the world is making attempts to put an end to plastic pollution, I would say that this conference is very timely. A Lot of research has been done and I think if there was a better time to put in place laws and policies to curb plastic pollution that would be now,” he said.
The plastic waste campaigner opines that the society is  now on the right track in the war against plastic pollution.
Having documented over the last 12 years, Wakibia told the participants that he started out around 2011, mostly because he was unhappy seeing a polluted environment, but he never thought he would end up being an activist.
“The first time I wrote an opinion
about the solid waste problem, I highlighted the need to ban plastic bags and improve recycling rate in Kenya. I was particularly disturbed by plastic bags in the streets, drains, on tree branches,” he says.

However, he admits that the journey against plastic pollution has been a long one; from being just a normal citizen irked by scenes of pollution to being an activist championing for change.

He adds that it has been a journey of many ups and downs.
What however makes him happy is that the World has  begun waking up to the realization of the problem of plastic and the need to come up with a global legally binding instrument- a plastics treaty.
“It also gives me great pleasure that we are seated here at Portsmouth University through the work being done by Revolution Plastics and other stakeholders to provide solutions to plastic pollution; both what we can see and what we cannot, like the micro plastics and chemicals,” he said.
He urges young people to embrace social media as a powerful tool to communicate world problems.
And with Nakuru being the youngest city in Kenya, Wakibia notes that the biggest drawback in plastic pollution menace address is greed by the petrochemical industries who just want to go on unabated to churn plastic they already know cannot be recycled and which contains toxic chemical additives.
This even as global statistics indicate that more and more plastics are produced every day with the world currently producing an estimated 400 billion tonnes of plastic annually.
Half of these are single use plastic which are dumped after being used just once. Only 10% of these billions of tons finds their way into recycling plants, which means that billions of tons are dumped in the environment or left in landfills, and recycling is not as portrayed by producers.

Wakibia used his speech at the conference to express the need to call everyone out, starting with the producers of plastics, those who package their products in plastics down to the consumers.

He was however quick to note that the
biggest responsibility must be borne by the polluting

“As we continue to talk of ending plastic pollution, we need to close the tap and maximize on the maximum recovery of recyclable materials. Proper waste management systems should make this possible, unfortunately plastics exacerbates solid waste problem in struggling economies,” he said.

Wakibia revealed in Kenya, guidelines are currently being set up to provide a framework of how EPR will be operationalized through a new sustainable waste management act.
This is yet another milestone after the ban on single use plastics in 2017.
In the new law, Manufacturers will be forced to belong to a producer responsibility organization that will be mandated by law to address the end of life of their products-This may see less waste ending up in the natural environment and more of it being put to a circular economy.
More and more countries should aim for sustainable solutions to end plastic pollution because plastic has proven to be very vigilant in fighting back.

“Our environment is already swamped with plastics. As The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee deliberates on the details of a plastics treaty, I want a plastic treaty that will not only cut down on production of virgin plastic, but one that will address plastics already in the environment. It must provide finance for restoration of already polluted environments. Unless we change how we produce, use and dispose of plastic, the amount of plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple by 2040. How does it get there? A lot of it comes from the world and rivers, which serve as direct conduits of trash into lakes and the ocean,” he said.

Plastic bags ban now reality, comply or face jail term

The ban of plastic bags is now becoming a reality in Nakuru county which has been largely hit by the solid waste management disaster.
A spot check in some of the supermarkets in Nakuru have embraced the alternative means of packaging shopping (biodegradable plastics) for their customers so as to comply with the ban which takes effect as from this Monday.
The ban however comes with its both positive and negative impacts on the economy with some plastic carrier bags sellers now saying life will be difficult.
‘Kibonge’- a business person in Nakuru town Market who has been selling the plastic bags for more than two years now says his business is doomed with the ban and that his life will never be same.
“I have been selling the plastic paper bags for so long and with the ban then my life is now doomed”he said.
His sentiments echoed by Margaret Wairimu Mungai who is now in the business of selling carrier sacks within Nakuru Town Market.
According to her,the business is okay but put in the shoes of the plastic paper bags vendors then many youths will go jobless.
Wairimu adds that this will impact negatively in the society as it means most youths who have been vending the polythene bags will be rendered jobless and might switch to criminal activities.
“My business of selling these sacks is not bad off but then for those youths who have been in the business of this plastic bags then the ban,it means they will be jobless and this might lead to more crimes in society”she said.
Butcher people who have been relying on the plastic bags to wrap meat for their customers are also lamenting over the ban.
They say even thought they have complied and using khaki papers to wrap the meat for their customers it has negative impact with the meat at times sticking to the paper.
“As much as we have complied and we are now using the khaki papers,the sticking aspect of the meat with the papers.The huge fine has just made us to comply”said one of the butcher in Nakuru Town.
However, Eliud Ndung’u a resident of Nakuru town commended the government over the ban on plastic bags.
He said the polythene bags have been of major negative impact on the environment with Nakuru having felt it in terms of waste disposal management.
“I must commend the government for the ban on plastic bags despite challenges here and there but we have just to comply”said Ndung’u.
This even as governors on Sunday supported the directive, saying it will yield a clean environment.
According to the Council of Governors chair Josphat Nanok , the county bosses will work with the Ministry of Environment to enforce the ban in devolved units.
The council urged Kenyans to use alternative bags such as the Manila paper, canvas, jute and biodegradable plastics.
It will be recalled, Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu announced the ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags on February 28 this year.
A fine of Sh4m or jail term of four years will be imposed on anyone found with plastic bag as from August 28th 2017.
PHOTO:Margaret Wairimu displays some of the alternative to plastic carrier bags at the Nakuru Town Market.

error: Content is protected !!