Single-Use Plastic free East African Community (EAC) campaign
Single-use-plastic free East African Community (EAC) campaign is a joint initiative of GAIA members in the East African region, bringing together the Centre for Environment Justice and Development (CEJAD) from Kenya, Nipe Fagio (NF) from Tanzania, Global Initiative for Environment and Reconciliation (GER) from Rwanda, and Biovision Africa (BIVA) from Uganda aimed at increasing the regional advocacy against single-use plastic.
For over a decade now, plastic bag bans have been enacted and implemented with relative success in Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. While in Rwanda plastic restrictions are broad, in Tanzania the rule only applies to plastic carrier bags. Uganda is yet to implement its plastic restrictions since the regulations were approved in 2017 while in Kenya importing, producing, or selling single-use plastic bags could result in a fine of $40,000, the highest fine for non-compliance to plastic restrictions in the world. Despite the lack of uniformity, it is important to recognize that all four countries have legislated and agreed to impose some kind of plastic restrictions in their territories, a singular opportunity for movement building, collaboration and regional advocacy.
Our campaign is centred on advocating for policies and actions that will reduce the use of single-use plastics in the East African Community (EAC) region. Single-use plastics, including straws, cups, and bags, are a major source of plastic pollution and have a significant impact on the environment and public health. Through our campaign, we work to promote sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics, including reusable bags, containers, and utensils.
The Single-use-plastic free EAC campaign recognizes that plastic pollution is a regional issue that requires a collective effort to address. Our advocacy efforts include working with governments, businesses, and communities to promote policies and practices that reduce the use of single-use plastics. We also collaborate with other organizations and individuals to promote sustainable waste management practices and reduce plastic pollution in the region.
The Strategy behind the Single-Use Plastic Free EAC Campaign
The smuggling of illegal plastic bags is a shared problem across the East African bloc and Africa in general, with local complexity resulting in governments in each East African country blaming one another for lack of oversight.
In terms of fighting plastic pollution, even though plastic bag bans are a valid first step to reducing plastic pollution, other single-use plastics are still manufactured, imported, and used in East Africa with a great impact on the environment and people’s livelihoods.
Plastic producers and importers are responsible for the continuous production of plastic products and their flow into African urban economies. Packaging is produced freely despite the lack of solid waste management systems, especially in low-income communities, and traditional product delivery systems that are waste-free keep being replaced by harmful branding practices. The lack of segregation at source, regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility and the incipient recycling sector in the region cause material recovery rates to be minimal, harming the environment further and missing employment and economic opportunities.
What should EAC consider?