by Robert Manyara
NAKURU, Kenya (Xinhua) -- While
circulation of plastic bags for secondary packaging in Kenya is
expected to cease in August, consumers are already looking
forward to adoptable alternative befitting their daily
Plastic bags with or without handles used
for commercial and household packaging will no longer be
manufactured or imported into Kenya thereby eliminating their
use going forward.
Following a notice of ban two months ago from cabinet
secretary for environment and natural resources, manufacturers
and suppliers have until August to clear their stock.
"We cannot fight the government but what we need is a cheap
alternative suitable to us," said James Nyamwanda, who hawks
bananas at a residential estate in Nakuru.
Introducing eco-friendly bags selling at a high price would
be killing micro businesses, he said.
"I will be forced to increase the price of bananas to make a
profit should I buy the new bags at a high cost and that will
automatically chase customers away.
Plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging
will no longer be manufactured or imported into Kenya.
"The government needs to think about this issue carefully,"
the father of five told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Veronica Wanjiku, a grocer in Nakuru town’s central business
district is hopeful the ban will bring sanity to the environment
but is anxious of the kind of alternatives likely to be
introduced into the market.
"If you look around, there are so many plastic bags littered
around and I believe the ban is a good step forward but remember
I cannot put chopped vegetables in a paper bag unless they are
dry," she said.
"But we will accept whatever the government brings as an
alternative. All I ask is that it considers small traders like
us," said Wanjiku who uses transparent mini-bags to package the
goods for her consumers.
These mini-bags are some of those categorized under secondary
packaging that the government will not tolerate their usage
after August 28.
Secondary packaging involves use of plastic bags to package a
product in a different location from point of production,
explained Geoffrey Wahungu, director general at National
Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
Whereas Nyamwanda and Wanjiku reflect apprehensions of
millions of Kenyans, it is this population that Nema, an
enforcement agency on environmental policies and laws, pegs on
to effectively close down on plastic bags.
"We are banking on public awareness and good will to succeed
in eliminating the plastic bags," he said.
Manufacture of all plastic bags are encouraged to invest in
production of alternative bags, he said.
"All stakeholders are required to take reasonable steps to
ensure that by Aug. 28, the production, importation, sale and
use of plastic bags in the country ceases," he said.
Abolition of plastic bag, a daily form of packaging in almost
every purchase from both retail and wholesale shops, would
stimulate revival of the sisal industry whose production has
been degenerating for many years, according to Nema’s chief
Its revitalization and sustainable exploitation would offer
an alternative to the plastic bags thereby avoid health and
environmental effects resulting from their use, he said.
"Plastics create the biggest problem of managing dumpsites.
"They clog our rivers and oceans.
"It will take many more years to clean up our oceans.
"In areas where there is grass, plastics are littered all
over and even the livestock find it so challenging to graze," he
He said the agency is encouraging initiatives aimed at
recycling plastics to clean up the ecosystem.
"We are engaging with supermarkets to buy from groups
recycling plastics in a way of creating a cycle of cleaning up
the environment," said Nema’s director general.
The UN environment agency, UNEP, has warned of probability of
having more plastic bags in the inland waters than fish by 2050
if proactive measures are not taken to stop environmental
pollution with the solid waste.
Plastic bags are not the only emerging solid waste causing
detrimental impact to the health of the living things in and out
Electronic and electrical waste such as mobile phones are
drawing global attention since they are also emerging hazards to
In a latest report by World Health Organization, waste from
these products if improperly recycled exposes children to toxins
which can lead to lung damage, cancer, and reduced intelligence
and attention deficits.