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In the fight against plastic pollution, many have hailed Kenya’s 2017 single-use plastic bag ban as a step in the right direction. The ban includes the strictest fines worldwide for individuals manufacturing or in possession of plastic bags, but was it the right decision? Were there other solutions for tackling plastic waste in the country that should have been considered? Nairobi Ideas Podcast is joined by plastic waste management expert, part-time lecturer, and consultant, Dr Leah Oyake-Ombis, a notable critic of the ban. Dr. Leah advocates for systems that emphasize recycling and adequate waste management, while building on existing industries. She also outlines the importance of evidence-informed policies that meet the needs of all sectors of the populace, including those in the ‘kidogo’ economy and the informal sector. Plus, find out why we should be better informed about the alternative “eco-friendly” bags currently in use throughout Kenya.


Oyake-Ombis, Dr Leah. Managing Plastic Waste in Urban Kenya: Niche Innovations in Production and Recycling. 2012. PhD Thesis. Wageningen University. Wageningen, Netherlands. http://edepot.wur.nl/239452

Oyake-Ombis, Dr Leah. “Rethink Plastic Bag Ban and Embrace Recycling”. July 2017. Daily Nation. https://www.nation.co.ke/oped/opinion/oyake-ombis-rethink-plastic-bag-ban-and-embrace-recycling/440808-4005726-x7pimrz/index.html

Godfrey, Linda. “Waste Plastic, the Challenge Facing Developing Countries—Ban It, Change It, Collect It?”. November 2018. MDPI Journal. https://www.mdpi.com/2313-4321/4/1/3/pdf

Obiezo, Timothy. “Nigerian Recyclers Reduce Plastic Waste by Exchanging Trash for Cash”. September 2019. VOA News. https://www.voanews.com/africa/nigerian-recyclers-reduce-plastic-waste-exchanging-trash-cash