, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – The Green Belt Movement on Tuesday commended the Ministry of Environment for the bold and critical step in management and disposal of plastic bags by ensuring the long term sustainability of the environment.
In a press briefing, Chairperson Marion Kamau said the long-awaited ban is timely as it will contribute greatly in reducing the effects associated with the use and improper disposal of plastics.
“Besides the littering problem which is apparent in most Kenyan urban centres, plastic waste, air pollution, habitat destruction, human health problems that include lung and respiratory disorders, human and animal deaths are but a few of the other complications,” she noted.
She said awareness is ongoing through community training on the environmental and health impacts of plastic bags.
“The movement has been advocating against plastic waste through the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and we continue awareness through community trainings on the environmental and health impacts of plastics.”
“Moreover we are in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and the National Environment and Authority Management (NEMA) in mainstreaming waste management.”
“Through this partnership we are sensitizing communities and different stakeholders on the 3 R’s, the effects of open burning of waste and behavioural change in relation to use of polythene bags,” Kamau stated.
Kang’ethe Mungai from the movement also called on the Ministry of Environment to go beyond the ban of plastic bags and actually address the use of plastic bottles which are common in the packaging of water and soft drinks, and are equally a menace.
“Kenyans have proved to be very innovative; this is evident after the implementation of the plastic bags ban which took effect on the Aug 28. And so what is needed are laws and policies to govern the use, management and disposal of plastics of all types,” stated Mungai.
On Monday, NEMA Director General Geoffrey Wahungu said they have stationed enforcement teams throughout the country as well as create more awareness and clarify matters arising from the ban.
“This is more of an awareness campaign that will last a week; we want to inspect how manufacturers, retailers, and businesses are implementing the ban,” Wahungu told Capital FM News.
He also clarified that county governments will be responsible for ensuring compliance by consumers and other businesses in various counties.
“Users holding plastic paper bags at home will have an opportunity to return the bags to selected retailers who have initiated a recycling program.
Among the retailers are Uchumi, Tuskys and Nakumatt Supermarkets who have agreed on a take-back scheme.
The Retailers Traders Association of Kenya which is in support of the ban said all major supermarkets will provide an eco-friendly bag at a small fee.
The supermarkets include Naivas, Mulleys, Tuskys, Chandarana, Nakumatt, Carrefour and Cleanshelf.
Others are Saltes, QuickMart, Budget, Uchumi, EastMatt, Choppies and Tumaini.
Speaking to Capital FM News, Retrak Director and Naivas COO Willy Kimani said the eco-friendly bags will cost the retailers a bit more than the single use plastic paper bag hence the need to cost share with shoppers.
“The bags will cost us between Sh5 to Sh10 more (per bag) than what we use. We are subsidizing the cost for the benefit of the consumer,” said Kimani.
The retailers have also given consumers the option of bringing their own bags or buying the more expensive shopping bags for between Sh30 and Sh50.
The ban was gazetted on February 28, 2017, in a bid to tackle the huge waste in the country that has become a challenge to the environment.