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January 18, 2019

Bill pushes for Kiambu stores to supply free shopping bags

Shoppers at a supermarket.PhotoFILE
Shoppers at a supermarket.PhotoFILE

A Bill seeking to compel supermarkets and retail outlets to provide free eco-friendly shopping bags has been tabled in the Kiambu county assembly.

Witeithie ward MCA Julius Taki, who tabled the motion, said since the Ministry of Environment banned plastic bags on August 28 last year, stores no longer pack customers’ shopping.

Customers are forced to buy bags or re-use old ones whenever they go for shopping, the MCA said.

“I am concerned that the re-use of shopping bags puts residents at risk of contracting diseases such as Listeria and Hepatitis E due to contamination of foodstuffs,” Taki said in the assembly.

Shoppers are forced to mix foodstuffs and other items in one bag, and this could lead to contamination. They incur extra costs when they have to buy more than one shopping bag.

Taki said the Kiambu County Health and Services Act 2014 advocates for the right to the highest health standards for residents.

The MCA urged the county government to engage the management of supermarkets and retail outlets to provide recommended shopping bags.

Ndenderu ward MCA Solomon Kinuthia, who is also a member of the Water, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, warned that failure by supermarkets to comply could result in the businesses being denied licences.

Residents who spoke to the Star supported the Bill. Many of them are unhappy because they are charged extra cash for carrier bags.

“Previously, stores used to provide free plastic bags for customers. What has changed? This is simply an avenue for supermarkets to fleece the already over-burdened mwananchi,” said one of the a resident.

Since the plastic bags ban took effect last year, supermarkets and retail outlets switched to biodegradable alternatives, but transferred the cost to customers. The cheapest bag that can fit three packets of 2kgs flour goes for Sh5.

Some supermarkets pack customers’ items in old cartons or they wrap them in old newspapers. Customers who buy items such as water, sodas and yoghurt often opt to carry them unwrapped.

Hawkers selling alternative carrier bags position themselves strategically outside supermarket entrances to sell bags to stranded shoppers.

Kiambu residents have been complaining about the high cost of shopping. They have appealed to authorities to intervene.

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