June 25th 2017

Society / Environment

Manufacturers oppose ban on plastics, want more time

KAM says Kenya currently has over 176 plastic manufacturing companies which it claimed employed “directly 2.89 percent of all Kenyan employees and indirectly employ over 60,000 people. These jobs and livelihoods will be negatively affected by this ban.”

By Cynthia Gitaucgitau@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 16 Mar 2017 09:49 EAT

The cabinet secretary for environment and natural resources Judy Wakhungu has banned the use of plastics in Kenya, causing furore from the association of manufacturers. The minister has with effect from six months also banned the manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging defined as carrier bags.

Through Gazette Notice No. 2356 dated 28 February on The Environmental Management and Coordination Act, the minister banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags. Carrier bags are bags constructed with handles and with or without gussets and flat bags which are constructed without handles and with or without gussets.

The association of manufacturers, KAM, decried the policy and abrupt and disrupting. “Local manufacturers were not extensively consulted on the decision to effect the ban on plastic bags. According to the Statutory Instruments Act, any regulation-making authorities should undertake appropriate consultation and impact assessment before issuing a policy directive – especially if the directive is likely to have direct or substantial effect on business,” the association said in a statement.

The statement said Kenya currently has over 176 plastic manufacturing companies which it claimed employed “directly 2.89 percent of all Kenyan employees and indirectly employ over 60,000 people. These jobs and livelihoods will be negatively affected by this ban.”

The statement added that, “The manufacturing sector as a whole will also be negatively impacted as they utilise plastics for packaging products. Imported products packaged in plastics are not affected by the ban and this will create an uneven playing field for the sector.”

The lobby said the six-month period provided for the ban to take full effect “is not adequate, as the companies cannot close down production and clear their stocks within this period.  There is also a need to put in measures to avail alternatives to substitute the plastic bags, the country is not in a position to offer this alternative currently or in the next six months.”

During stakeholders' discussions on the ban, KAM had raised objection to the proposed ban, saying among other things that the market was not ready for alternative packaging systems. “We as key players in this industry recognize the need to push for sustainable development goals and do support the spirit of this bill.

"However, the issue here seems to be a human problem of waste disposal and we suggest that the bill should include waste management in its provisions in order to make governments accountable to the agenda,” KAM said in a presentation.

Additional reporting by Nyambura Muthoni

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