NAIROBI, Kenya. Apr 19 – The government is developing guidelines to enforce a ban on use of plastic bags, with the talks expected to be completed in two weeks time.
In an interview with Capital FM News, NEMA’s Director General Geoffrey Wahungu said they are currently in consultations with the Ministry of Environment and stakeholders in developing guidelines likely to enforce the ban on use, manufacture and importation for commercial and household packaging of plastic bags.
On March 14, Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu announced that Kenya will ban plastic bags on September 1, 2017, a move that was quickly appreciated by a majority of people praising her for taking a huge step in the right direction of protecting the country’s environment and natural resources which was quickly being eroded by waste.
Kenya is among the few countries that are yet to effectively ban the use of plastic bags, unlike their counterparts Rwanda who have succeeded on the ban.
“The ban will bring back the glory of Kenya in its nature and natural resources,” noted Wahungu, “Driving around you can’t help but notice the how much plastic bags have suffocated our environment.”
Wahungu noted that they are optimistic that the talks will result to the provision of a law aimed at encouraging the re-use of paper bags or the use of alternatives to reduce plastic waste generation and environment degradation that will then be drafted and adopted in parliament.
“We want to work with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) as well as other stakeholders for avoidance of doubt,” the director general said noting that in a week/ two weeks time, the CS will seat in a joint communiqué and communicate to the public on what transpired in the discussions and the way forward.”
“The affected groups i.e. importers, traders of plastic paper bags etc should also work with us knowing that there is an implementation strategy that needs to be fulfilled come what may.”
This will be the third time that Kenya will be trying to ban plastic bags after trying so in 2007 and 2011.
The ban in use of plastic bags in 2007 and 2011 mainly focused on reducing the thickness of the bags to 30 microns and 60 microns respectively, an agenda Wahungu says was achieved.
“Kenya has previously tried to rein in pollution from polythene materials; this time round the total ban will be fully effected,” said Wahungu.
“Papers contribute 9pc of total waste however they create over 90pc of the environmental degradation.”
In the meantime, NEMA is in the process of listing the banned polythene bags before the ban comes into effect.
This will see to it that anyone found to be violating the ban will face between one and two years jail term or a fine of between Sh2 million to Sh4 million.