Nema sends out of­fi­cers, cops to en­sure plas­tics ban com­pli­ance

All man­u­fac­tur­ers and im­porters had un­til to­day to de­clare their re­main­ing stock to Nema for nec­es­sary ac­tion. The in­spec­tors will make sure the plas­tic bags are not sold

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - SU­SAN MUHINDI LEWIS NYAUNDI @TheS­tarKenya

The Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment Man­age­ment Author­ity to­day flags off its in­spec­tors and en­vi­ron­ment po­lice to in­spect whether man­u­fac­tur­ers have com­plied with the plas­tic bag ban.

The ban takes ef­fect to­day and con­sumers will be forced to embrace eco-friendly sub­sti­tutes to avoid at­tract­ing a fine of be­tween Sh2 mil­lion and Sh4 mil­lion, or a jail term of be­tween one and two years, or both.

All man­u­fac­tur­ers and im­porters had un­til to­day to de­clare all their re­main­ing stocks to Nema for nec­es­sary ac­tion. The of­fi­cers will also be mak­ing sure the plas­tic bags are not avail­able on sale at the counter or given freely out­side the in­dus­trial set­ting.

En­vi­ron­ment CS Judi Wakhungu through a Fe­bru­ary 27 Gazette no­tice banned the use, man­u­fac­ture and im­por­ta­tion of all plas­tic bags for com­mer­cial and house­hold pack­ag­ing.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers were given six months to clear their stock.

Speak­ing in Nairobi, Nema di­rec­tor gen­eral Geoffrey Wahungu said they will roll out civic ed­u­ca­tion tar­get­ting the “kadogo econ­omy” be­fore en­forc­ing the law on con­sumers.

The law, he said, will be en­forced with the as­sis­tance of the county gov­ern­ments and Nema in­spec­tors, whose names are al­ready gazetted.

“We are ask­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic not to be wor­ried be­cause most of them are in a dilemma. We will first give them ad­e­quate no­tice to get al­ter­na­tives,” he said.

“Our of­fi­cers will have Nema uni­forms and Nema cards for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”

Soon after im­ple­men­ta­tion, Nema in­tends to pass the ba­ton to the county gov­ern­ments. Its cor­po­rate af­fairs de­part­ment says the ban ap­plies to all plas­tic car­rier bags com­monly known as ‘Juala’ and flat bags used for com­mer­cial and house­hold pack­ag­ing.

Flat bags are those used mainly in gro­ceries and for garbage col­lec­tion.

In the flat bag cat­e­gory, ex­emp­tion is ex­tended to bags used for in­dus­trial pri­mary pack­ag­ing where the prod­uct has di­rect con­tact with the plas­tic and is done at the source.

The ex­emp­tion is sub­ject to leg­i­bly and per­ma­nently la­belled bags to in­di­cate the name of the in­dus­try man­u­fac­tur­ing the prod­uct, the end-user and phys­i­cal ad­dresses for ease of mon­i­tor­ing and trace­abil­ity.

This means the flat bags used for col­lec­tion of garbage and hazardous ma­te­ri­als such as med­i­cal waste, chem­i­cals and waste lin­ers are ex­empted, so long as they are leg­i­bly and per­ma­nently la­belled and colour-coded and are in­cin­er­ated to­gether with the waste.

Garbage lin­ers are also ex­empted on con­di­tion that they are clearly la­belled. The lin­ers will not be dumped to­gether with the waste, but will be emp­tied and reused or re­cy­cled by the li­censed waste col­lec­tor and trans­porter — the end user.

With re­gard to duty-free shop bags, Nema’s web­site in­di­cates that the ban will ap­ply to the use, man­u­fac­ture and im­por­ta­tion of the banned plas­tics within Kenya. Since duty free shops at air­ports use flat bags as garbage and hazardous waste lin­ers, “any trav­eller com­ing into Kenya with duty-free bags shall be re­quired to leave them at the en­try points,” Nema says.

The in­creased use of plas­tic bags has been the lead­ing cause of en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion. With the en­force­ment of the ban, the me­nace will even­tu­ally be erad­i­cated.


The al­ter­na­tive car­rier bags an­nounced by the min­istry will have to be made from non-plas­tic ma­te­ri­als such as sisal, pa­per, cloth or pa­pyrus.

Wo­ven polypropy­lene plas­tic bags (gunny bags), non-wo­ven polypropy­lene plas­tic bags (cloth-like bags) and 100-per cent biodegrad­able bags (starch and cas­sava bags) are other named al­ter­na­tives.

There is no ex­emp­tion for cloth­ing stores. Some dry-clean­ing de­part­ments such as Flash have in­di­cated they will stop us­ing plas­tic bags as part of their pack­ag­ing and en­cour­aged their clients to carry their own or they will issue al­ter­na­tive pack­ag­ing at a small fee. Su­per­mar­kets such as Naivas have also in­tro­duced al­ter­na­tive car­rier bags.

Mean­while, the Green Belt Move­ment yes­ter­day com­mended the En­vi­ron­ment min­istry and its CS Wakhungu for “the bold and crit­i­cal step in en­sur­ing long-term sus­tain­abil­ity of our en­vi­ron­ment”.

“We look for­ward to work­ing with the min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment to sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this ban as we pro­tect our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment from pol­lu­tants,” it said in a state­ment.

GDM said the long-awaited ban is wel­come and will con­trib­ute greatly to re­duc­ing the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with the use and im­proper dis­posal of plas­tics.

Be­sides the lit­ter­ing prob­lem, which is ap­par­ent in most ur­ban cen­tres, plas­tic waste, air pol­lu­tion, habi­tat de­struc­tion, hu­man health prob­lems — that in­clude lung and res­pi­ra­tory dis­or­ders — and an­i­mal deaths are but a few of the other com­pli­ca­tions.

The move­ment fur­ther urged Kenyans to sup­port “the no­ble cause that guar­an­tees a cleaner and health­ier en­vi­ron­ment to the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions”.

On Fri­day, the Kenya As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers lost a bid to block the ban’s im­ple­men­ta­tion. The High Court in Nairobi de­clined to sus­pend the ban on grounds that the need to con­serve the en­vi­ron­ment over­rides com­mer­cial in­ter­ests.


En­vi­ron­ment CS Judi Wakhungu checks car­rier bags made from hy­acinth at KICC, Nairobi, on Thurs­day

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