NEMA exempts waste paper bags, select consumer products from plastic bag ban

August 18, 2017
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NEMA has instructed all manufacturers, importers and users of plastic bags used for industrial packaging to apply for a clearance letter if they wish to continue making or importing the plastic bags.

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 18 – The National Environmental Management Authority has exempted domestic waste paper bags and disposal bags used in the handling of biomedical hazardous waste from the ban on plastic bags.

In a notice published by the Authority, plastic bags used for primary industrial packaging will also be exempt from the ban, meaning consumer products such as sugar, bread, milk and salt will not be affected by the ban, as long as the products are packaged at source.

“These bags must be clearly labeled (printed) the name of the industry manufacturing the product and the end-user,” reads the notice published on the regulator’s website.

However, NEMA has instructed all manufacturers, importers and users of plastic bags used for industrial packaging to apply for a clearance letter if they wish to continue making or importing the plastic bags.

“The applicants shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Authority, an effective Take Back Schemes (TBS) and/or Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).”

NEMA has published the exemption days before the ban which takes effect on August 28th     

There are over 176 plastic manufacturing companies in the country which is 3.4 percent of all the manufacturers combined with an estimated cost value of the sector at Sh88 billion.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers has petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to lift the ban arguing that it will have dangerous consequences on the economy.

KAM Chief Executive Phyllis Wakaiga said if the ban takes effect, the country will lose Sh5.2 billion in taxes and affect over 600,000 jobs in a country facing unemployment challenges.

Manufacturers are of the view that instead of a ban, the country should invest in the adoption of a waste management measure that will, in turn, create more jobs and revenue from processes such as waste collection, waste transportation, waste segregation and waste recycling.

KAM is also proposing to establish a ‘Waste Management Board Levy’ to be charged on all plastic at source (Point of Entry).

Industry experts argue that if the ban is lifted, the government will gain Sh785 million from the waste management levy, a move that will contribute to improving the economy.

Manufacturers are of the view that instead of a ban, the country should invest in the adoption of a waste management measure that will, in turn, create more jobs and revenue from processes such as waste collection, waste transportation, waste segregation and waste recycling.

How a section of business leaders and UNEP have supported the ban, saying it is long overdue.

Speaking at a roundtable forum hosted by the United Nation Environmental Programe, Wednesday, the business leaders including Safaricom Chief Executive and General Motors East Africa Managing Director Rita Kavashe say local companies are now taking concrete steps to balance between business growth and environmental protection.

Collymore said single use paper bags are being phased out in many countries and that its only a matter of when not if the paper bags will be banned.

UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim says that the UN supports the Government’s move to ban plastic bags and that it is willing to work with stakeholders develop sustainable solutions.

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