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Kenyan producers want plastic bags banned

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11 – Manufacturers are now calling on the government to put in place a law that will encourage the recycling of plastic bags as a way of eliminating the rising environmental and health menace in the country.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Chairman Vimal Shah argued that imposing a hefty levy on the plastic bags was ineffective, adding that there are no substitutes for such bags.

“Because there is no substitute for plastics which are also weather proof and it’s a cheaper alternative, you are not going to stop it by putting a tax on it therefore it has to be recycled,” he told Capital Business adding that the private sector was already lobbying the government to consider passing the law.

A government’s move to impose a 120 percent tax on manufacturers producing flimsy plastic bags in 2007 has done little to mop up the more than 100 million plastic bags that are handed out every year by supermarkets alone.

Most of the country’s major cities and towns are now littered with the bags which are used to package commodities such as bread, milk and sugar. This has not only become an eyesore but contributed greatly to the challenge of dealing with waste management in the country.

Other countries such as Rwanda have however successfully implemented a ban on these bags and successfully moved to the environmentally-friendly paper bags.

Mr Shah said there should be a law that spells out tougher punishment for people who carelessly dispose of these bags.

“The government needs to put in a law that says it’s illegal to throw plastic bags in the environment. The minute that’s done, our behaviours will be responsible. If I have my compound clean by myself, then the whole country will sort itself out,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Association through its Centre for Energy Efficiency Conservation (CEEC) has urged its members to promote energy efficiency and meet the government halfway in the realisation of Vision 2030.

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While announcing this year’s Energy Management Awards, KAM Chief Executive Officer Betty Maina called on industrialists to undertake regular energy audits as a way of keeping a tab on consumption.

“It is important for companies to monitor their use of energy, especially with the fickle climatic conditions we are currently experiencing. Energy audits not only save your environment and customers but also your money and increase your profits and competitiveness in the environment in which you operate in,” she said.

Ms Maina added that energy efficiency has been known to reduce carbon emissions and that the annual awards had previously assisted to reduce these emissions by one million tonnes over the last nine years.

This was realised under the GEF-KAM Industrial Energy Efficiency Project, a UNDP-GOK project implemented by KAM between 2001/2006.

“We have also seen energy consumption in energy by the participating companies drop, saving them over Sh2 billion since 2006,” said Ms Maina.

The event, which takes place on March 26, recognises enterprises that have embraced and invested in sustainable energy efficiency and realised cost savings.

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