Kenya Says Goodbye to the Plastic Bag

by Sandy Salle on September 19, 2017

In order to reduce litter and their long-term impact on the environment, Kenya recently joined 40 other countries around the globe that ban the use of plastic bags.

The ban includes plastic bags of any kind (including Ziploc) brought into the East African nation by tourists. In other words: all plastic bags are now illegal in Kenya.

That includes:

  • plastic bags packed in both your hand luggage and checked luggage,
  • duty free bags coming from outside Kenya
  • All kinds of plastic bags, basically!!

The new law mandates that all plastic bags be confiscated at ports of entry, whether airports, sea ports or overland.

If you’re thinking of clandestinely sneaking your plastic bags into Kenya, be aware that the penalties for getting caught using plastic bags inside the country are fairly stiff: Fines of up to four million Kenya Shillings (US$38,000) and up to four years behind bars.

Nobody can yet predict if Kenya will police the ban in the strictest sense (like Rwanda) or more lax enforcement (as is the case in Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Cameroon).

But it’s best for anyone planning a Kenya safari to be prepared. While not as dust proof or waterproof as good old plastic, there are a number of alternatives including bags made from non-plastic materials like cloth, paper, jute or sisal as well as polypropylene and 100% recyclable materials.

The sort of cloth bags that many people now use for supermarket shopping are an ideal replacement . . . for safari-goers who are not paranoid about their cameras and other electronic equipment getting wet or dusty.

Two other alternatives — especially for those packing sensitive electronics — are dry sacks and packing cubes.

If you have any questions about the plastic bag ban or alternative carriers, don’t hesitate to contact Hills of Africa.

Download our African safari packing guide here:

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