, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has banned the use of plastic bags that cannot be recycled.
NEMA\’s Acting Director General Ayub Macharia said on Thursday that any plastic bag that is less than 60 microns will not be allowed from March when the directive takes effect.
Dr Macharia told a media conference that NEMA had now directed the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to only approve the manufacture of plastic bags that were above 60 microns.
“If Kenya Bureau of Standards fails to comply, the authority (NEMA) may in itself perform the duties in question and the expense incurred in so doing shall be a civil debt recoverable by the authority from the lead agency,” he said.
“We are telling Kenyans that we need these changes,” the Acting NEMA boss added.
He said that many of the plastic bags and wrappers that are currently in use are very light and get easily dispersed by the wind.
“Our country has many colours and when God was creating the world, he only allowed plants to give us flowers, so when our landscape becomes flooded with many artificial flowers of varied colours due to poor management of plastic bags and wrappers, then it becomes a problem,” he said.
Dr Macharia noted that although the Finance Bill 2007 imposed a ban on the manufacture and importation of plastic bags of less than 30 microns and imposed a 120 percent excise duty to strike a balance between industry, environmental conservation and sustainable development, it had not worked as was expected.
He said although NEMA appreciated the role played by the plastic bags manufacturers in the growth of the economy, it was against manufacture and use of plastics that could not be reused or recycled.
He said that the 60 microns thickness was the acceptable standard across the East African Community.
“KEBS is to ensure that the industry is in compliance with the new gauge through factory inspection and ports of entry surveillance and monitoring to prevent entry of plastic bags and wrappers below the gazetted microns,” he said.
NEMA Chairman Francis ole Kaparo said they were increasingly concerned by the continued degradation of the environment by waste emanating from plastic bags.
“What is so difficult at this day and age with all the technologies, with all the brains around that we cannot make a package that can be used and when discarded can be destroyed by the environment itself, that it will not be an eyesore to the Kenyan people; that it will not kill the wildlife, our livestock and marine life?” Mr Kaparo wondered.
NEMA also recommended the use of bags made from cotton, sisal, corn, paper and cloth.
The environmental authority said the new gauge would not affect the cost of plastic bags as people would use fewer plastics because they will be recyclable.