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Nairobi High Court upholds Kenyan Ban over all Plastic Bags

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A Kenyan High Court on Friday dismissed a suit filed by industrialists seeking to suspend ban on plastic bags set to take effect next Monday.

High Court Judge Mweresa Eboso said the petition by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) will injure the public interest which requires state protection.

Eboso said the need to conserve the environment overrides commercial interests, stressing that environmental conservation will be gravely undermined if the regulation is suspended.

Plastic manufacturers and importers wanted the notice by the environment ministry, which will take effect on Aug. 28, temporarily stopped until their case is heard and determined.

KAM argued that the gazette notice issued earlier this year on the ban of plastic bags is tantamount to economic sabotage to Kenyans who have either invested heavily or depend on plastics bags for a living.

However, Eboso dismissed the claims by KAM that they stand to suffer irreparable economic loss if the injunction is not granted pending determination of the case.

"This would mean that the offensive plastic bags continue to suffocate the environment to the detriment of the Kenyan population while serving the commercial interests of a section of the plastic bags dealers," he said.

KAM had submitted that the ban would lead to the loss of about 60,000 jobs directly, and another 400,000 jobs indirectly.

They further claimed that the government had not given out an alternative to plastic bags, adding that the notice is unconstitutional.

Kenya has given manufacturers a six-month grace period before the ban takes effect on Aug. 28.

The ministry has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.

The ban targeted carrier bags with handles, with or without gussets, or flat bags without handles and with or without gussets.

But through an affidavit by Association CEO, Phyllis Wakiaga, KAM claimed there are gaps in the adopted regulation and weak enforcement mechanisms.

The ministry of environment, in its response, dismissed the application by manufacturers saying there was sufficient public participation before the law was passed.

Eboso said players in plastic sector were adequately represented, noting that the question whether criteria for public participation was met is something to be raised at the time of hearing that he set on Sept. 21.


Kenyan manufacturers warn of job losses over plastic ban

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan manufacturers on Saturday warned of possible job losses following the move by the government to ban plastic bags use which is set to come into effect on Monday.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) also clarified that the industrialists have never been against the intent of the ban, which is to clean up the country, towards improving the quality of life for all Kenyans.

"We have only differed on the manner of its execution, which did not take into account adequate stakeholder consultation," KAM said in a statement issued in Nairobi a day after the High Court upheld ban on plastic bags.

The industrialists have argued that the ban, if implemented, would lead to loss of over 420,000 jobs and revenues to firms and the government.

"The shutdown of many factories will also mean immediate termination of workers with no send-off packages and no alternatives provided," they argued.

The government in a gazette notice published in March imposed a ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging from Aug. 28.

The move, the third attempt in a decade, saw Kenya join other environmentally conscious countries in the war on the use of plastics.

The ban also means that citizens may empty their garbage and re-use the same bags over and over again, posing a health and sanitation risk.

The industrialists said it is crucial that all stakeholders are engaged to develop measures that allow the country to set up alternatives for a smooth transition from plastic bags to help attain the goal for a clean environment.

They said the six-month period was hardly enough notice for a country whose entire industry and population depends on these bags for packaging.

"We are hopeful that during the hearing of the case, the Courts will recognize the laws in the country and the Constitution, that any regulation-making authorities should undertake appropriate consultation and impact assessment before issuing a policy directive—especially if the directive is likely to have direct or substantial effect on business and on the lives of citizens," KAM said.

The ministry has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.

The ban targeted carrier bags with handles, with or without gussets, or flat bags without handles and with or without gussets.

The manufacturers said they had developed and presented a waste management solution to the ministry of environment and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) that has the potential to manage the country’s waste an in the process create more jobs for the people of Kenya.

"We implore the Ministry to look at executing this proposal owing to its potential to create sustainable economic growth," said the industrialists.

Kenyan waste management lobby opposes plastic ban

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s waste management lobby on Friday opposed the government’s plastic ban that takes effect on Aug. 28 on the grounds that it will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs that are dependent on plastic bags.

Chege Kariuki, chairman of Waste and Environment Association of Kenya (WEMAK), told a media briefing in Nairobi that while waste bin liners have in theory been exempted from the ban, this is really not the case.

"The conditions set for waste companies as well as manufacturers to receive an exemption are such that it will be impossible for the waste management industry to comply.

"As a result we envisage that the sector will have to scale down operations and hence reduce its workforce in order to comply with the law," Kariuki said.

The environment ministry has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.

The ban targeted carrier bags with handles, with or without gussets, or flat bags without handles and with or without gussets.

Offenders face 40,000 U.S. dollar fine or four months imprisonment.

A group of manufacturers and importers of plastic bags have gone to court to prevent the plastic ban from taking effect on Monday.

The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has urged Kenyans to use alternatives such as bags made from cloth, sisal or paper.

Kariuki said that the waste management sector has increased tremendously in the past two decades due to rapid urbanization.

"The development of high rise flats makes it more convenient for waste to be carried via plastic bags as opposed to bulky waste bins," he added.

The plastic ban outlaws use of plastic waste bin liners.

The chairman said that using other alternatives to plastic waste bin liners will also not be possible due to their prohibitive costs.

"So unless the government reconsiders the ban, waste management will become impossible for all waste companies from next week," he added.



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