Kenya plastic bag ban comes into force


The Kenyan Government has placed a ban on plastic carrier bags in Kenya, which means that anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying them could face fines of up to $38,000 or prison sentences of up to four years.


This also extends to plastic bags arriving into the country through the airports. Bags affected include duty free plastic bags, sealed duty free tamper evident bags and the small 1-litre liquid bags used during security screening. Manufacturers who use polythene to wrap products are exempted from the ban.


Airport Authorities are working with NEMA to ensure airport arrival operations are not impacted by the enforcement of the ban.  As of this week, NEMA are seeking to set up an exchange kiosk in the arrivals hall where you will be able to collect a requisite “bag for life” in exchange for the plastic bag you hold.  It is not currently known if there will be a cost involved to exchange the bags.


However, the Aviation Security Liaison Office recommends disposing of your plastic bags after security screening and before boarding your flight to Kenya.  While a system is being sought for implementation in the arrivals hall, it is likely that the kiosk will be busy and exchanging your bags there may lead to unnecessary delays for you exiting the airport.


Travellers departing Kenya should not take any plastic bags with them to the airport and this includes 1 litre liquid bags; which are not required for security screening in Kenya.  Duty free sealed bags for alcohol will still be available from the duty free shops; however these must be used only when exiting the country. 


Travellers also must not pack plastic bags in their checked-in luggage, as it’s a criminal offence to own one as soon as they are taken outside the airport.


This is the third attempt in the past 10 years to ban plastic bags in Kenya.


The $38,000 fine with the alternative of a four-year jail term has many people preferring to comply with the ban. (The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) says that enforcement officers can, for now, only confiscate plastic bags but not arrest offenders.)