Earlier this month, we collaborated with Unearthed and the New York Times to expose how the American Chemistry Council (ACC) was lobbying the US Trade Representative to include terms into the US-Kenya trade negotiations that would enable the plastics industry to flood Africa with plastics.
According to documents uncovered by Greenpeace’s investigative journalism unit, the ACC wanted the United States government to insist that Kenya relax its existing plastic bans so that it could make the East African country a gateway to Africa for plastic trade – and then sell us recycling as a “false solution” to the environmental catastrophe it would cause.
Several of the world’s most influential voices took to social media when the news broke, expressing disgust at this attack on Africa’s plastic-free progress. Here’s what they had to say:
1. James Wakibia
Wakibia is the activist credited to have inspired Kenya’s plastic ban. He started the social media campaign, using the Twitter hashtag #banplasticsKE, that would eventually lead to the country banning single-use plastic bags. It is no surprise that he took to Twitter to voice his dismay about the news. He tweeted: “USA should stop arm-twisting Kenya and African countries to accept trade pacts that will get us into bigger plastic problems.”
(Read Greenpeace Africa Senior Political Advisor Fredrick Njehu’s opinion piece in the ACC’s lobbying to include terms that will increase plastic trade in Africa – click here)
2. Indya Moore
The popular Pose actor, who is also an anti-racism and transgender rights activist, posted the article to thier Instagram page. Moore made a strong comment on how the ACC’s plans for Kenya was a prime example of how vulnerable Black people are to the exploits of big US corporations. Over 33,000 of the actor’s fans liked the post in solidarity!
3. Greta Thunberg
The Swedish climate youth activist has never been scared to call a spade, a spade. She quoted a paragraph from the exposé demonstrating how plastic waste export quadrupled in Africa since China stopped importing plastic waste in 2018. Thunberg commented, “The never ending sweeping of our rubbish underneath the carpet…” Nearly 10,000 people interacted with her tweet.
(Read Greenpeace Africa Plastic Campaigner Amos Wemanya’s blog on recycling, and why it is a “false solution” – click here)
4. Robert Alai
The controversial Kenyan blogger and cyber-activist was one of the first to share the news on Twitter. Alai is well known for his online commentary and has even been sued, and briefly incarcerated, for his highly opinionated political attacks. True to form, his tweet, cynically stating “Kenya Set To Lift Ban On Plastic Papers For US Imports”, caught the attention of many and garnered almost 1,000 interactions.
5. Tom Udall
Serving as the senior US Senator from New Mexico since 2008, Udall has been very vocal about the impact of climate change during his tenure. Udall called out big oil companies in a tweet where he shared the New York Times article, adding that “[we] must make these polluters take responsibility”.
And, of course, we have a bonus post from one of the most influential voices within the organisation, Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan! She shared the news on all of her social media platforms, saying that the ACC’s plan for Africa “cannot happen”.
Making your voice heard on the matter is the only way that we can stop the ACC from proceeding with their plans. We encourage you to raise your voice on social media just like these brave activists. Also, make your voice count by signing this petition to the Kenyan Minister of Trade, urging her to reject any terms that may interfere with the country’s plastic bans.
Angelo Louw is the Digital Mobilisation Officer Greenpeace Africa, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He currently leads the orgnaisation’s Plastic Project.