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July 15, 2018

No retreat, no surrender, plastic ban is on, Environment CS says

Environment and Natural Resources CS Prof. Judi Wakhungu(centre) and Kenyatta University acting Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul K. Wainaina are showed environmentally friendly briquettes manufactured locally that are being exhibited at the Africa innovation festival at Kenyatta University Oct 14 2016.Photo/COURTESY
Environment and Natural Resources CS Prof. Judi Wakhungu(centre) and Kenyatta University acting Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul K. Wainaina are showed environmentally friendly briquettes manufactured locally that are being exhibited at the Africa innovation festival at Kenyatta University Oct 14 2016.Photo/COURTESY

The impending ban on plastic will go on as planned and as such, Kenyans must support it, Environment CS Judi Wakhungu declared yesterday, six days to the ban.

Speaking to the Star on the phone, Wakhungu said “nobody disputes the fact that plastics remains one of the serious pollutants and banning it is long overdue.

“Plastic is a serious pollutant that not only affects the environment but also wildlife, fish, livestock and human beings.”

The ministry has convened an exhibition on Thursday and Friday to showcase alternatives.

Being found with plastics will attract a fine of between Sh2 million and Sh4 million, or a jail term of between one and two years, or both.

Alternative carry bags

Paper, cloth, canvas, sisal, papyrus bags or shoppers’ own bags will now be the alternatives.

Wakhungu said the ban will succeed if Kenyans support its implementation. She banned the use of plastics through a Gazette notice on February 27.

Manufacturers were given six months — until August 28 — to clear their stock.

However, distributors, wholesalers and retailers are up in arms, saying the time given to clear stocks is not enough.

Most plastic dealers will make losses as they have stocks running into millions of shillings. They joined the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in waging war against the ban.

Carrier bags with handles, with or without gussets, or flat bags without handles and with or without gussets will not be allowed in the market.

A ban on light-weight bags comes into effect on August 28.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers has raised concerns that the ban will affect industries using plastics to package their products.

CEO Phyllis Wakiaga has also raised concern that the ban will affect industries relying on plastics for packaging.

Plastics only for industrial use

But Nema has clarified that plastic bags used for industrial primary packaging at the source will not be affected.

Wakhungu said, “KAM has been taking the ministry in circles yet the ban would have been imposed 10 years ago.

“We are not targeting primary industries as this is the first phase. KAM is playing games as they do not even attend our technical meetings. This is about people’s health.”

Institute for Law and Environmental Governance executive director Benson Ochieng supported Wakhungu, saying KAM’s move “is procrastination on their part as Kenya is not the first country to impose plastic ban”.

“They [KAM] had ample time of six months. They could be having legitimate concerns but the ban outweigh concerns they are raising. People just have to adjust,” he told the Star.

ILEG is an independent, non-profit public interest law and policy organisation seeking to transform the way governments make decisions affecting the environment and natural resources.

According to Nema, plastics for industrial use will not be available or given freely outside the industry setting. It says the bags must be labelled clearly by the industry manufacturing it and users must obtain clearance letters.

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