While they applaud the move in protected areas, pundits insist on sensitisation and creation of awareness before expanding to complete ban everywhere. Milliam Murigi\u00a0 @millymur1 On 4th June 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed a ban on Single-Use Plastic (SUPs) in all protected areas. The ban took effect last week on June 5, 2020, which also marked the World Environment Day. The ban will be effective in all protected areas in Kenya, which covers about eight per cent of the country\u2019s landmass for wildlife conservation, according to Kenya Wildlife Service. These areas, comprising 23 terrestrial national parks, 28 terrestrial national reserves, four marine national parks, six marine national reserves and four national sanctuaries, embrace various types of ecosystems namely: forests, wetlands, savannah, marine, arid and semi-arid. Fredrick Njehu, Greenpeace Africa\u2019s Senior Political Advisor, says although this is a step in the right direction and signifies political commitment in the fight for a clean environment, the government needs to give notification to producers of the single-use plastics so that they can instead begin investing in reusable and other viable alternatives that are safe, clean and are not pollutant to the environment. \u201cBiodegradable and compostable plastics will not prevent plastic pollution and should not be used as an excuse to keep consuming single-use plastics.\u201d Banned SUPs include disposable plastic water bottles, disposable cutlery, non\u2013woven plastic carrier bags, plastic cotton bud sticks, confectionery, and snack wrappers, disposable sanitary items, wet wipes, single-use toiletries packaged in plastics, among others. Threat to health Alternatives such as wooden and metallic containers, reusable glass bottles, reusable carrier bags, refillable soap containers and other eco \u2013friendly materials can be used to replace SUPs. Also, there should be strict measures and enforcement rules designed to allow for the implementation of the directive. Importantly, public sensitisation and awareness needs to be created by the necessary authorities to ensure public safety, understanding, and effectiveness of this directive.\u00a0 \u201cProtected areas are safe spaces for members of the public to undertake recreational activities. Although this is a step in the right direction as far as curbing of plastic pollution is concerned, this ban needs to extend to other places soon. We must begin setting high environmental standards as a country,\u201d he adds. According to him, plastic pollution is a big problem because huge piles of plastic wastes negate the rationale of utilising public spaces for recreational and other purposes. Apart from that, dumping of plastics wastes in these areas is a recipe for toxic landscape. \u00a0 It is estimated that 91 per cent of plastics produced is not recycled so it ends up being dumped on the rivers, oceans, piled on land, and dumped in other water bodies. Specifically, it is estimated every year about eight million tonnes of plastic waste escapes into oceans from coastal nations. Besides water bodies, plastics are also clogging waterways, and land, thus threatening health of humans and animals. \u201cWaste from plastic materials that never makes its ways to the ocean still ends up being dangerous to our animals. The impacts felt by these animals closely mirror their marine brethren. They can suffer from various forms of entanglements as well as accidental consumption which may be deadly,\u201d he explains. Kenya Forest Services, which is in charge of about five million hectares of forest reserves and the many facilities and activities found within the forests, has developed guidelines for the implementation of the national ban with an overall goal of contributing to the sustainable management of plastic waste in the country. Subsequently, all forest conservancies and stations will roll out programmes to educate stakeholders, promote appropriate alternatives to the use of SUPs in the forest areas, sensitise communities on the laws and regulations and ensure the ban is fully enforced. Strategy formulation In the past, KFS and other stakeholders have been utilising polythene tubes to raise tree seedlings in the tree nurseries. However, the polythene tubes will now be gradually replaced by viable alternatives such as Swaziland beds, root trainers and unigrow trays for seedlings propagation. \u201cWe have developed a transition plan that will guide the use of polythene tubes in tree nurseries, with a policy of reusing and recycling being applied in all forest reserves,\u201d says KFS Chief Conservator of Forests, Julius Kamau. Facilities and services within forest reserves that will be subject to the ban include licensed accommodation facilities, nature trails, picnic sites, tree platforms, boardwalks, canopy walks, guided tours, adventure activities, quarry sites, construction sites and installation sites among others. \u201cThe overall objective is to keep SUPs out of all forest reserves by educating stakeholders, promoting appropriate alternatives to the SUPs, sensitising the public on the governing laws as well as enforcing these laws, \u201cadds Kamau. According to Njehu, Kenyans should be obedient since members of the public and the entire ecosystem are direct beneficiaries of this directive. And because of these directives, most towns and cities will reap significant benefits from a clean and healthy environment habitable for future generations. To ensure success, Njehu says the government needs to come up with a plastic strategy and make a directive on single-use plastic. Apart from that, sound legislation against manufacturers and the use of single-use plastics needs to be implemented in order to reach a positive maximum impact.