Greenpeace calls for a policy on plastic bags ban to enforce sanction

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A regional policy on single-use plastic bags ban is required for effective implementation of the sanction, an environmental organisation has noted.

The organisation Greenpeace, said this in response to the news that the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has issued a warning over the return of plastic bags in the country.

According to Greenpeace Africa’s Campaigner Amos Wemanya said: “To curb the influx of contraband single-use plastics into Kenya, the government needs to improve its coordination and collaboration among various enforcement agencies including the NEMA, National Intelligence Service and Police units acting both within and across borders to nab the illegal suppliers of banned single-use plastic carrier bags.

As the Ban on plastic bags came into effect on the 28th of August 2017, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) made great strides in providing clarifications on acceptable alternative options to the plastic carrier bags which were affected by the Ban.

It was during this period that the Kenyan market was flooded with Non-woven Polypropylene bags to replace the carrier bags in various retail outlets/stores/shops. The non-woven bags are known to bear positive characteristics in terms of reusability and durability as opposed to the conventional plastic carrier bags.

Kenya bans non-woven bags too

Nema, however slapped a ban on the non-woven bags too in the Kenyan Market effective 31st March 2019 until the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBs) gazettes a standard that will inform the quality of non-woven bags needed in the Kenyan market.

“You are therefore advised to comply accordingly, failure to which the Authority will instigate Enforcement Action pursuant to the provisions of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, Cap 387 of the Laws of Kenya.” The notice reads in part.

“Unscrupulous businessmen and traders continue to take advantage of the porous Kenya-Uganda border to bring the banned plastic into Kenya. The East African legislative members need to push for coordinated enforcement of the regional single-use plastic carrier bags ban to achieve the benefits of a single-use plastic carrier bags ban. Tanzania who have recently banned single-use plastic effective 1 June 2019, will be singing from the same hymn sheet if a regional policy is not implemented.” Mr Wemanya added.

Greenpeace Africa is calling on Kenya’s government to tighten policies and regulations on plastics and give incentives to producers that will come up with affordable alternatives to single-use plastics. This will make alternatives more affordable; stimulate more production thus influencing the accessibility to small scale retailers and consumers who form the larger population that is consuming illegally acquired single-use plastic carrier bags.

In East Africa, Rwanda is the only other country to have successfully implemented such a ban, meaning that there are plenty of places smugglers can get plastic bags and bring them across the Kenyan border to sell on the black market. Kenya is bordered by five countries, and the Ugandan border along Lake

Victoria has emerged as a high-traffic area for illicit bags. This is according to a report by UN Environment.

However recently, Tanzania followed suit by banning the use, manufacturing or sale of the plastics bag on 1 June.

Uganda announced a ban on the importation, manufacture and use of plastic materials made of polymers of less than 30 microns in in 2007, but the government shelved the implementation after industry players from the country opposed the move.

Also Read: Uganda, other EA countries supplying banned plastic bags to Kenya

Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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