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时间:2017-09-03 22:48来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

Kenya Becomes Latest Country to Ban Plastic Bags

Kenya has joined the growing list of countries to ban plastic bags.

A new Kenyan law bars the production, sale and even use of polythene plastic bags. People caught breaking the law may be fined up to $40,000 or face a four-year jail term.

The cabinet secretary for the environment, Judi Wakhungu, told reporters that plastic bags are affecting Kenya’s food and water supplies. “It is a toxin1 that we must get rid of,” she said.

Environmental harms

Plastic bags are used in many countries. People often get them when buying products from food stores or other businesses. But experts argue that polythene bags are bad for the environment and public health. The bags have been blamed for polluting cities and coastal2 areas. They have also been blamed for killing3 animals who eat them or become trapped in them.

Kenya’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) notes that while the bags are thin, they never really break down into small pieces through natural processes. As a result, it warns, the plastic can remain “in the environment as small or even microscopic4 particles…forever.”

NEMA officials have been urging retail5 businesses and manufacturers in Nairobi to obey the new ban. Geoffrey Wahungu, the director general of NEMA, is supporting a campaign known as the “take-bag” scheme. He is asking Kenyans to bring their own cloth bags or baskets from home.

“I hope soon we'll start seeing people who are carrying out these recycling materials, or alternative bags, which are eco-friendly. All this is creating much more employment than is being lost,” he told VOA.

Joining the list

Kenya is the latest country to ban polythene plastic bags. Similar measures are reported to be in effect in at least nine other African countries. However, of the nine, only Rwanda has been successful in enforcing the ban.

In neighboring Uganda, for example, the move away from plastic has been slow. Officials banned the production, import and distribution of thicker plastic bags in 2009. Yet such bags are still in use today in the capital, Kampala.

The Ugandan government wants local manufacturers of polythene bags to support its calls for recycling.

Some Ugandans are hoping to earn a profit through efforts designed to protect the environment. Two years ago, Sharon Ninsiima started a business for removing plant fiber6 from banana stems. The fiber acts like cotton and can be used to make biodegradable paper bags.

“People consider our products expensive, which is true,” she says. “But our bags are… safer than the polythenes…,” she adds. “The polythenes are more dangerous and contaminate the environment.”

Banning bags around the world

In Asia, several countries have also joined the movement to ban plastic bags. Bangladesh became one of the first countries in the area to enforce a ban after bags blocked drainage systems and caused serious flooding.

In preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, China banned thin plastic bags and raised prices for thicker ones.

Some European countries have started to either ban plastic bags completely or force businesses to pay more for using the bags. In 1994, Denmark became the first country to charge people for using plastic bags. Ireland approved a similar move in 2002.

In Central America, Costa Rica has said it plans to be the first country to completely remove all single-use plastic bags by 2021.

There also have been efforts to ban plastic bags in parts of the United States. In 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban such bags. Nine years later, the state government in California banned them across the state. All county governments in Hawaii have individually banned plastic bags, effectively banning them statewide.

Chicago and other cities, such as Dallas, Texas, and Washington, DC, have similar bans.

Economic impacts

However, not everyone feels that banning plastic bags is a wise idea.

In Kenya, two plastic bag importers attempted to overturn the ban in court last week. But their effort failed. The National Association of Manufacturers says the ban will cost the country more than 60,000 jobs.

In the United States, groups like the American Progressive Bag Alliance, or APBA, have successfully campaigned to overturn several bans.

The APBA argues that banning plastic bags reduces jobs and harms working families, who are forced to pay more for food and goods. The group adds that the bags can be reused, and are less harmful to the environment than other products.

Some producers of plastic bags also oppose the idea of banning bags. Phil Rozenski serves as Director of Sustainability for Novolex.

“These laws were never about plastic bags, they were about reducing litter and marine7 debris8. The major flaw is that this approach doesn’t change human behavior, it only changes products.”

He argues that the amount of carbon dioxide released in the manufacture of plastic bags is much smaller than that from bags made with other material.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Words in This Story

drainage - n. the act or process of draining something ?

contaminate - v. to make something dangerous, dirty, or impure9 by adding something harmful or undesirable10 to it?

expensive - adj. costing a lot of money?

biodegradable - adj. capable of being slowly destroyed and broken down into very small parts by natural processes, bacteria, etc.?

polythene - n. a light and strong plastic that is used mainly in sheets for packaging?

recycle - v. to send used newspapers, bottles, cans, etc. to a place where they are made into something new?

retailer11 - n. a person or business that sells things directly to customers for their own use?

toxin - n. a poisonous substance and especially one that is produced by a living thing?

litter - n. things that have been thrown away and that are lying on the ground in a public place?

debris - n. the pieces that are left after something has been destroyed


1 toxin hn5wb     
  • Experts have linked this condition to a build-up of toxins in the body.专家已把这一病症与体内毒素的积累联系起来。
  • Tests showed increased levels of toxin in shellfish.检验表明水生有壳动物的毒素水平提高了。
2 coastal WWiyh     
  • The ocean waves are slowly eating away the coastal rocks.大海的波浪慢慢地侵蚀着岸边的岩石。
  • This country will fortify the coastal areas.该国将加强沿海地区的防御。
3 killing kpBziQ     
  • Investors are set to make a killing from the sell-off.投资者准备清仓以便大赚一笔。
  • Last week my brother made a killing on Wall Street.上个周我兄弟在华尔街赚了一大笔。
4 microscopic nDrxq     
  • It's impossible to read his microscopic handwriting.不可能看清他那极小的书写字迹。
  • A plant's lungs are the microscopic pores in its leaves.植物的肺就是其叶片上微细的气孔。
5 retail VWoxC     
  • In this shop they retail tobacco and sweets.这家铺子零售香烟和糖果。
  • These shoes retail at 10 yuan a pair.这些鞋子零卖10元一双。
6 fiber NzAye     
  • The basic structural unit of yarn is the fiber.纤维是纱的基本结构单元。
  • The material must be free of fiber clumps.这种材料必须无纤维块。
7 marine 77Izo     
  • Marine creatures are those which live in the sea. 海洋生物是生存在海里的生物。
  • When the war broke out,he volunteered for the Marine Corps.战争爆发时,他自愿参加了海军陆战队。
8 debris debris     
  • After the bombing there was a lot of debris everywhere.轰炸之后到处瓦砾成堆。
  • Bacteria sticks to food debris in the teeth,causing decay.细菌附着在牙缝中的食物残渣上,导致蛀牙。
9 impure NyByW     
  • The air of a big city is often impure.大城市的空气往往是污浊的。
  • Impure drinking water is a cause of disease.不洁的饮用水是引发疾病的一个原因。
10 undesirable zp0yb     
  • They are the undesirable elements among the employees.他们是雇员中的不良分子。
  • Certain chemicals can induce undesirable changes in the nervous system.有些化学物质能在神经系统中引起不良变化。
11 retailer QjjzzO     
  • What are the retailer requirements?零售商会有哪些要求呢?
  • The retailer has assembled a team in Shanghai to examine the question.这家零售商在上海组建了一支团队研究这个问题。
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