UNEP Council discusses polythene pollution menace

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai has supported a plan by Kenya to ban the use of polythene shopping bags and impose heavy penalties on plastic products manufacturing plants distributing the environmental pollutant.
The ban was proposed by a report compiled by two public policy think-tanks in Kenya - the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) - who also advocate stiffer levies for plastic bags pollution.
Speaking during day three of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) Governing Council meeting here Wednesday, Wangari said Africans should revert to their traditional lifestyle that promoted the use of sisal shopping bags and baskets.
Wangari, who is also Kenya's assistant environment minister, said the rise in malaria infections across Africa was due to the plastic bags menace, which blocks gutters and drains, chokes animals and threatens the survival of marine life, especially the endangered species.
"The bags are discarded after a one trip shopping spree and end up filled with rainwater, offering an ideal breeding ground for the malaria-carrying mosquitoes," said Wangari, the 2004 Nobel Laureate.
The report by KIPPRA and NEMA, launched at the ongoing Governing Council being attended by some 100 ministers of environment from across the globe, was compiled by the two agencies with the help of UNEP.
UNEP executive director Klaus Toepfer said the study was "comprehensive and thoughtful", providing possible solutions to Kenya's waste handling problems.
"This is not just a problem for this country.
Wastes are increasing problems everywhere, particularly in developing countries.
The lessons learnt from these countries are that they change behaviour and generate income for the environmentally friendly ways of dealing with rubbish," he noted.

23 february 2005 15:58:00

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