The African country of Kenya has passed the world’s toughest laws to help the environment.
Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000.
Kenya now joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags. these countries include China, France, Rwanda, and Italy.
Currently, New Zealand has no laws in place.
Many plastic bags drift into the ocean.
“If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish,” said Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the U.N. Environment Programme in Kenya.
Plastic bags, which El-Habr says take between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, also enter the human food chain through fish and other animals.
Kenya’s law allows police to go after anyone even carrying a plastic bag. But Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s environment minister, said enforcement would initially be directed at manufacturers and suppliers.
Big Kenyan supermarket chains like France’s Carrefour and Nakumatt have already started offering customers cloth bags as alternatives.