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Court set to rule on effective date of plastic carrier bag ban

Plastic bags/AFP

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 25 – The High Court will this Friday rule on whether the ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic carrier bags which is meant to take effect on Monday, August 28 should be suspended.

The petition which was filed on July 13 by importers, wholesalers and retailers of plastic bags seeks to have the ban quashed.

The ban was put in place vide a Gazette Notice by Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu on February 28.

Judge Bernard Eboso reserved his ruling following an urgent application by Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and businessmen Frederick Gichuhi and Stephen Mwangi who are opposed to the ban.

The importers and retailers of plastic bags implored the court to suspend the ban which they said if implemented, will see them incur heavy losses.

The petitioners pointed out to the court that the legal notice of 2017 did not comply with the Statutory Instruments Act of 2013, also arguing that there was no adequate stakeholder consultation.

Further, petitioners raised issues with the six-month- notice period they were given to adjust and comply with directive arguing  that it was too short to clear all stocks and fulfill their contractual obligations.

However, Geoffrey Wahungu, the NEMA Director General while speaking at a panel discussion on Thursday before the opening ceremony of an exhibition titled “a case for plastic bag bans- eco-friendly packaging solutions,” said there was sufficient stakeholder consultation.

“The law was made in a consultative manner. The Cabinet Secretary didn’t Gazette the Act in a vacuum. There were proper and sufficient consultations,” he said.

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At the same exhibition, Environment Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli called for a collaboration with the manufacturers’ body to deal with their issues.

“We expect more collaboration between KAM and the Ministry to deal with some of the issues they have raised. Let’s try and work together for the sake of the environment,” he said.

Wakhungu lauded innovative stakeholders who are exhibiting alternative eco-friendly packaging materials at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).

“The meeting today showcases how stakeholders have adjusted and innovatively developed alternative eco-friendly packaging materials to take place of the environmentally hazardous and condemned polythene bags,” she said.

The government has already stated that the deadline will not change despite protests from the manufacturers.

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