For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Cate Bonacini: cbonacini@ciel.org

Investigation Details Industry’s Attempts to Flood Africa with Plastic Pollution

Freedom of Information Act-released documents expose how US trade negotiations may undermine Kenya’s progress on plastic and chemical safety 

WASHINGTON - Investigative reports by the New York Times and Unearthed reveal close coordination between chemical and plastic industry representatives and Trump Administration officials as they negotiate a trade deal with Kenya that would undo environmental and public health regulations that have made the East African nation a global leader in the fight against plastic pollution.  

“The documents expose a new frontier in the industry’s efforts to derail regulations that protect human health and the environment from plastics and hazardous chemicals. They reveal a brash attempt to use US trade negotiating power to undermine the progress that Kenya has made to curb the plastic crisis,” says Nikki Reisch, the Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “The industry’s efforts to use the Kenya-US Free Trade Agreement to smuggle in rollbacks of democratically enacted environmental and public safety protections is, frankly, outrageous.”

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“If this is happening in Kenya, it can happen anywhere. Kenya is the seat of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and a global leader in the fight against single-use plastic,” says Jane Patton, Senior Campaigner at CIEL. “Where else is the industry attempting to undermine environmental health? And what other backdoors are they utilizing to evade transparency and participation from civil society?” 

“Kenya, as a sovereign nation, recognizes the right to a clean and healthy environment,” adds Patton. "Kenyans deserve the ability to choose their own level of safety with regard to chemicals and plastic, and according to its constitution, Kenya has a duty to eliminate activities that are likely to endanger the environment. The chemical and plastic industries’ attempts to turn other nations into the United States’ dumping ground is the height of a colonialist mentality.”

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Since 1989, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has worked to strengthen and use international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society.

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