Typical nature of plastic bags (less than 5 microns) usually handed out at shops and supermarkets for packaging purposes
The newly elected Kenya National Discourse Forum (KNDF) Executive Board members have vowed to extend support to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) initiative of banning the use and manufacture of polythene bags.
In their inaugural meeting held at Perch Hotel in Kisumu, presided over by the chairperson, Rev Joe Asila, and attended by the Vice-chairperson, Ms Anne Ombewa, KNDF Secretary General Mr Laban Korelach among others. The members resolved to support the authority’s ban on polythene bag. Reading the meeting’s resolutions, Mr Korelach noted that majority of Kenyans are for the total ban. “The few who have not understood the reason behind the ban will soon catch up with the rest of the country through awareness creation”, he said.
“It is estimated that over 8 million plastic bags are handed out at the supermarkets every year. Most of the plastic bags produced in Kenya are less than 15 microns. This means that they cannot be recycled” observed KNDF National Chairman, Rev Asila.
The polythene ban applies to the manufacture, use, and importation of plastic carrier bags commonly given by retail stores. Those found defying the ban risk a fine of up to Ksh 4 million or a four year jail term. He further noted that KNDF being among stakeholders in environmental conservation should add its voice on this important national debate.
The ban on plastic bags, which took effect on August 28, 2017, has caught most traders "off-guard" despite a six-month notice by the Government. This was the second time the authority has issued the ban and it was expected that this time round the ban will be effective and embraced by all.
Supermarkets were also racing against time to clear their current stocks. Customers were being given too many paper bags despite the quantity of goods bought. One customer at a leading chain of supermarkets joked that it was the first time each of his products was being packed separately.
The Government has maintained its stand on the ban through Gazette notice number 2356 made on February 28, 2017 by Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu, despite opposition from manufacturers.
By Peres Wenje