Environment ministers from across the world on Saturday welcomed Kenya’s plastic bag ban.

A heap of discarded plastic bags on a street of Nakuru town on August 28, 2017. Use of plastic bags have been banned in Kenya. Photo/AMOS KERICH

National Environment Management Authority director general Geoffrey Wahungu said there is no turning back.

The ban took effect through a gazette notice by Environment CS Judi Wakhungu on February 27. It advocated alternative materials to protect the environment.

Wahungu told the UN Environment Assembly that the deliberations on the ban had taken more than 15 years and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers had watered down all the efforts made.

“We had the political support and so far there has been support from the public,” he said.

Wahungu told the session that looking for alternatives has been a major problem. But this has been solved as women and youth groups have come up with the alternatives, he added.

This year’s third UNEA session, which is being held in Gigiri, Nairobi, is titled Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.

Wahungu who spoke during a session — Saving Oceans from Plastics Pollution: A look at Alternative Materials and Green Design — said manufacturers “who were still in denial came face to face with the ban. There were accusations and negative information of not involving as many people as possible.”

There is still a lot to be done, he said.

“The challenge is that we cann’ tell whether plastics still in the market are old stock or there are manufacturers still producing them. We’re waiting for the newly elected county officials to get organised and mop up,” Wahungu said.

Experts warned there will be more plastics than fish in the sea by 2050.