Pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial short­age looms in plas­tics ban

Business Daily (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Ngugi bn­joroge@ke.na­tion­media.com

An acute short­age of pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als was yes­ter­day loom­ing large over re­tail­ers after pro­duc­ers of plas­tic bags sus­pended op­er­a­tions, pend­ing clar­ity on the ban on plas­tic bags that came into force on Mon­day.

The Kenya As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers (KAM) said that while the Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment Man­age­ment Author­ity (Nema) had al­lowed the man­u­fac­ture, im­por­ta­tion and use of plas­tic bags for pri­mary in­dus­trial pack­ag­ing and garbage col­lec­tion, pro­duc­ers of the bags had been forced to sus­pend op­er­a­tions be­cause of the “com­plex­i­ties in ob­tain­ing clear­ance,” from Nema.

Nema had last week asked all man­u­fac­tur­ers, im­porters and users of the plas­tic bags for pri­mary in­dus­trial pack­ag­ing to ob­tain clear­ance let­ters al­low­ing them to con­tinue in the busi­ness.

KAM claimed yes­ter­day that the process of get­ting the clear­ance let­ters had been marred by “com­plex­i­ties,” forc­ing some pro­duc­ers to close pend­ing clar­ity.

“KAM has re­ceived for­mal no­ti­fi­ca­tion from plas­tic bag man­u­fac­tur­ers of in­dus­trial and non-in­dus­trial pack­ag­ing that with ef­fect from 28th Au­gust 2017, they have tem­po­rar­ily

sus­pended their man­u­fac­tur­ing and delivery op­er­a­tions fol­low­ing the re­cent ban on plas­tics,” said KAM.

“The rea­son for the sus­pen­sion is to en­able them get clar­i­fi­ca­tions in or­der to con­tinue their op­er­a­tions.”

KAM said the clo­sures had been made pend­ing clear di­rec­tion from the en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dog.

It cited an un­clear road map on how a take-back scheme, which Nema had cited as a pre­req­ui­site to get­ting the ap­provals as one such com­plex­ity that needed clar­ity.

It also said con­sumer goods com­pa­nies and the in­dus­trial pack­ag­ing were still in the dark on the la­belling of the pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial and its pos­si­ble ef­fect on their brands. But in a quick re­join­der, En­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary Judi Wakhungu dis­missed the claims, terming them an at­tempt to de­rail im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ban.

Prof Wakhungu ruled out com­plex­i­ties in the process, say­ing Nema had en­gaged the man­u­fac­tur­ers on the ban’s im­ple­men­ta­tion.

She said “many Kenyans” had wel­comed the ban.

“Most Kenyans are com­ply­ing with the ban,” said Prof Wakhungu. “They are im­pro­vis­ing in or­der to en­sure we save our en­vi­ron­ment.”

Prof Wakhungu cited sup­port from the Council of Gov­er­nors and res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tions in the ban’s im­ple­men­ta­tion. But KAM noted that the lack of clar­ity had af­fected pro­duc­tion of some of the most im­por­tant house­hold prod­ucts, in­clud­ing salt and maize flour.

It said dis­tri­bu­tion and sup­ply of fer­tiliser is also likely to be af­fected be­cause the flat plas­tic liners used in their pack­ag­ing are af­fected by the ban.

“In ad­di­tion to this, Kenya stands to lose ex­port rev­enue be­cause the re is cur­rently un­cer­tainty about the man­u­fac­ture of plas­tic flat bags used for pack­ag­ing of flow­ers, fish, tea and EPZ ex­ports,” it claimed. A spot check by the Busi­ness

Daily on the sec­ond day of the ban re­vealed that traders had been forced to im­pro­vise to serve their cus­tomers. Fast food chains serv­ing snacks around towns had been the hard­est hit.

Stores in­clud­ing chemists, bou­tiques and shoe out­lets also sought al­ter­na­tive pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial. Some shop­pers who opted not to buy pa­per bags on sale by re­tail­ers chose to carry their items by hand.

Pro­duc­ers of al­ter­na­tive pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial, how­ever, re­ported a boom in busi­ness.

“We have in­creased our ca­pac­ity based on a spike in new or­ders,” said Chin­tan Vora, CEO of Thik­abased Bags and Balers.

This came as more com­pa­nies that pro­duce plas­tic bags took a hit from the ban.

King Plas­tic one of the coun­try’s largest plas­tic bags pro­duc­ers said it had shut op­er­a­tions af­fect­ing 600 work­ers.

Yes­ter­day Nema is­sued a no­tice to Kenyans to take their stock of plas­tic bags to spe­cific drop off points where they will be col­lected by the agency and re­cy­cled.

FILE

OR­DER Prof Judi Wakhungu, En­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary.

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