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Kenyan manufacturers’ lobby disagree with ban on plastic bags

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) on Thursday decried the ban on plastic bags that will be effected after August 28 saying it could undermine industrial growth and job creation in the country.

A statement from the lobby said the plastic ban flouted constitutional principles on consensus building and could also put a brake on investments in the manufacturing sector.

“Currently, we have over 176 plastic manufacturing companies in Kenya that employ 2.89 percent of all Kenyan employees and indirectly employ over 60,000 people. These jobs and livelihoods will be negatively affected by this ban,” read the statement from KAM.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Professor Judi Wakhungu on March 14 issued a directive to manufacturers and retail chains to stop using polythene bags for packaging goods by September.

Wakhungu banned the manufacture, use and importation of plastic bags for commercial and household packaging citing their threats to environment and human health.

While green lobbies applauded Kenya’s bold decision to ban use of plastic bags, manufacturers worried about its implication to economic growth and job creation.

“The manufacturing sector as a whole will also be negatively impacted by the ban as they utilize plastics for packaging products,” said the manufacturers lobby.

It added that imported products packaged in plastics are not affected by the ban and this will create an uneven playing field for the sector.

Kenya joined the league of other East African States like Rwanda that have imposed a ban on use of plastic bags for packaging goods in view of their detrimental impact on the environment.

The East African Legislative Assembly is spearheading efforts to ban use of polythene bags across the region terming them a drawback to green growth.

Nevertheless Kenyan manufacturers warned that implementation of the plastic ban could face legal hurdles since key stakeholders were not consulted.

They also noted that the six months grace period announced by the government for the ban to take effect was not adequate for them to halt production and clear stocks.

“There is need to avail alternatives to substitute the plastic bags since the country is not in a position to offer this alternative currently or in the next six months,” said KAM.

The manufacturers’ lobby emphasized that plastic menace was not a production issue but rather a waste management and consumer behavior challenge.

“Plastic sector has proposed establishment of a fund to address plastic waste management,” read the KAM statement adding that local manufacturers are committed to green production to reduce the menace of solid waste in cities.


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