Press Release

Kenyan youth making a poster at last week’s climate strike at Uhuru Park, Nairobi

Nairobi, Kenya, 02 October 2020 – 62 lawmakers from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are calling on President Trump to take a leadership role on plastic pollution by opposing the export of more plastic waste to Kenya and supporting Kenya’s actions to curb the production of wasteful single-use products.

This letter follows investigative reports from the New York Times and Unearthed that revealed extensive and ongoing coordination between the US government and industry stakeholders to limit the scope of national and international policies to curb plastic pollution, including in negotiations to update a trade deal between the United States and Kenya. 

“In 2019, the United States exported more than 1 billion pounds of plastic waste to 96 countries, including Kenya. While many Americans believe they are recycling their plastic when they sort it at home for collection, this plastic often ends up as waste in developing countries and ultimately finds its way into rivers, oceans, and landscapes,” wrote the lawmakers in a letter to President Trump.

“The world’s eyes are on Kenya because many voices have come together to place this injustice on the agenda. We have sent a clear message that Africa has a strong position regarding protection of it’s environment and cannot be coerced into lowering its standards by foreign corporations,” said Greenpeace Africa’s  Senior Political Advisor Fredrick Njehu. “Recently, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment warned the plastic Industry that Kenya would impose stricter plastic bans if they continued with their overhanded tactics. The plastic industry must realise that its time is up.”

“The plastics industry will stop at nothing to ensure its profits continue flowing, which includes actively lobbying the Trump administration to treat low and middle-income countries as dumping grounds for the world’s plastic waste. The American Chemistry Council has worked to push more plastic production into Africa, which could undermine progress made by countries to ban single-use plastic products and combat pollution. It is time for the world to stand up to this industry that continues destroying our communities, our oceans, and our health,” said Greenpeace USA Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges.

“The United States has not only failed to provide leadership but is also actively working against progress made in Africa, on tackling plastic pollution. We strongly oppose using a free trade agreement with Kenya as an avenue to export plastic waste from the US to Africa and to undermine Kenya’s efforts in curbing plastic pollution,” continued Njehu.

Kenyans have not been silent on the issue. During the global climate strikes, a group of youth from Kenya formed a coalition and coordinated last week’s strikes to call on CS Betty Maina not to allow Africa to become a dumping site for the US. Over 20,000 people have signed Greenpeace Africa’s petition to Maina calling for her to stand firm against the plastic industry’s lobbying.

Notes to the Editor:

  • Letter to President Trump can be found here.

Media Contact:

Hellen Dena, Communications and Story Manager, +254717104144, [email protected]

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