Oil industry lobbied US to help weaken Kenya’s strong stance on plastic waste

According to environmentalists who used the continent as a dumping ground, major oil companies are lobbying the United States to pressure Kenya to change its world-leading stance against plastic waste.

The request came from the Office of the American Chemistry Council for the Office of the United States Trade Representative as the US and Kenya negotiated what would be the first US bilateral trade deal with a country in sub-Saharan Africa.

The deal is expected to be a model for others in Africa, and its importance led to a White House tour of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta with Donald Trump this year – rare for an African leader during this administration.

In 2017 Kenya imposed the world’s strictest ban on the use, manufacture and import of plastic bags, part of growing efforts worldwide to limit a major source of plastic waste. Environmentalists fear that Kenya is now under pressure not only to weaken its resolve but to become an important transit point for plastic waste for other African countries.

US and Kenya to ban imposition of domestic limits on “production and consumption of chemicals and plastics” and in its April 28 letter from Ed Brazytva, director of the American Chemistry Council for International Trade overseen by the Associated Press Has been urged. Border trade.

“We speculate that Kenya may serve as a hub for the supply of US-made chemicals and plastics to other markets in Africa in the future,” the letter says. It was first obtained by Unearthed, an affiliate of the Greenpeace environmental organization. The council reiterated its request in a public comment session in June.

China’s ban on imports of most plastic waste in 2018 has forced companies to look for new places to ship it, but other countries, including Africans, are increasingly saying they don’t want it. Plastic waste meant for recycling has piled up in dumps in cities across Kenya.

Meanwhile, oil companies are under pressure as more countries aim to move away from fossil fuels.

The American Chemistry Council said in a statement to the AP, “It is well understood that a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Kenya, Kenya’s domestic approach to the management of plastic waste or under its Basel Convention Won’t undermine international commitments “, a global agreement that, as of January, will make it more difficult for poor countries to ship plastic waste. About 190 countries have agreed to this, but not the US.

The council said: “In fact, the ACC has not mentioned Kenya’s approach to single use of plastic bags even once in our comments.”

The United States Trade Representative’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Kenya’s government did not comment. But Kenyan Trade Minister, Betty Maina, said in comments published by the local Star newspaper on Tuesday that Kenya will hold talks with the US “guided by Kenyan laws” and negotiations are continuing.

The government of Kenya may weaken or reverse its ban under pressure from the US or the oil industry, this has upset the country’s environmentalists.

“They want Kenya to reverse its strict limit on plastics, including the 2017 plastic bag ban! This is not one! ”Tweeted James Waikibiya, who worked hard for Kenya’s plastic bag ban.

Griffins Ochieng, who leads the Center for Environmental Justice and Development in Kenya, said any attempt to change laws on plastics would be dangerous. “Africa is looking like a new dumping ground, we are not going to allow it,” he said.

Inger Anderson, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program based in Kenya, tweeted, “If this is true, it would be abusive and irresponsible.” “We @UNEP are very proud of our host nation # Kenya’s strong lead on reducing plastic waste and forcing an innings away from single plastic.”

Restrictions on single-use plastics are increasing worldwide. A global review by UNEP in mid-2018 stated that 127 countries have adopted some form of regulation on plastic bags.