Kenya bans plastic bags for shoppers with effect from September

Supermarkets that will fail to charge customers for the bags could be jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to Sh3 million or both.

 

The ban includes importation, manufacture and use of plastic bags.  Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said the ban takes effect in six months’ time and it is in line with environmental management.

The banned plastic bags are categorized under the carrier bag and flat bag where carrier bag is defined as one constructed with handles, and with or without gussets. The flat bag are constructed without handles, and with or without gussets.

Earlier, in a public gazette notice of February 27, Wakhungu said: "The ministry has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging."

Last year, a bill sponsored by Nairobi County Umoja MCA Njoroge Maina aimed at encouraging the re-use of paper bags or the use of alternatives to reduce plastic waste generation.

The bill proposed fines for shoppers found carrying polythene bags in Nairobi and has since been in effect, impacting heavily on shoppers, as they have to pay more to contain the inflated costs.

The move by the government, therefore, means that supermarket and other consumable goods outlets would not be allowed to use polythene bags to package goods for customers, as has been the norm.

The bill prescribed that people who fail to charge customers for the bags could be jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to Sh3 million or both.

A 2007 attempt at cleaning up the country by banning the manufacture and import of bags widely failed. Plastic bags manufacturing industries, however, are set to relinquish their massive work force to beat the new turn of events, as a drop in revenues is set to come in.

Rwanda is the only country in the region which has effectively banned use of plastic bags. Kenya has been heavily polluted by plastic waste, experts warning that such menace contribute hugely to the prolonged dry spells being experienced in the recent past.

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