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Kenya Under Pressure To Relax Its Plastic Waste Import Rules




The world’s plunging oil deals are pushing the pressure buttons for Africa’s largest economy Kenya. With oil companies trying to make a beeline for plastic production, there are rumours over oil company lobby pushing the US to put pressure on Kenya to relax its plastic disposal guidelines.There is a plastic industry proposal which is meaning to force Kenya to adhere to its terms and relax its plastic disposal norms.

Kenya has been one of the preferred nations to be used as a plastic dumping ground. But since 2017, it has been seriously fighting plastic waste and became of the many nations to sign up a deal to stop indulging in plastic waste imports. But the global agreement was met with a lot of resistance, especially from a nexus of industry representatives that were primarily former trade officials, US administrative officials and trade representatives too.

With few takers of oil and gas, producers are now looking for newer ways to ensure their usage. So, the evitable choice becomes petrochemical usages. But this will come with its own danger of plastic waste that is goes contrary to the climate change protocols put in place.

The ironic part of plastic dumping in countries like Kenya is that 90 percent of this is never recycled. Most plastic is hard to decompose and dispose. Official figures estimate that in 2019 itself, American exporters shipped more than 1 billion pounds of plastic waste to 96 countries including Kenya. It was evidently meant to be recycled, according to trade statistics. But much of the waste, ended up in rivers and oceans.

They were too hard to recycle. The ecosystem of such countries like Kenya run into danger of damage, which is why the administration is not willing to give into the American pressure and relax its no-plastic regulations.
The plastic industry proposal is coming with pressure on not only Kenya but the US itself. The plastics industry’s proposals could also make it tougher for to regulate plastics in the United States, since a trade deal would apply to both sides.

But the American Chemistry Council has already forwarded its agenda when it sent off a letter to the trade representative’s office laying out the group’s vision. Kenya’s growing ports, railways and road networks “can support an expansion of chemicals trade not just between the United States and Kenya, but throughout East Africa and the continent,” it believes.

“To foster a plastics hub, a trade deal with Kenya should prevent the country from measures that would curb plastic manufacture or use, and ensure Kenya continues to allow trade in plastic waste,” Ryan Baldwin, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council has said. This goes completely contrary to the fact that Kenya has been known to have imposed the toughest plastic bans in the world.

Kenya isn’t the only country taking measures to curb plastics. A recent report by the United Nations counted 127 countries with policies on the books to regulate or limit use.The bigger question is to eliminate the use of plastic for the larger good of human kind, a reality that the petrochemical bigwigs are preferring to hold a myopic view towards.


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