Ban on plastics opens new window for sisal

The recent ban on plastic bags presents new business opportunities for hand baskets.

The Government and various stakeholders say biodegradable bags will be the next best thing to plastics.

Speaking during a stakeholders meeting at Unep, the director general of the National Environment Management Authority, Geoffrey Wahungu, said the State was encouraging the use of bags made from sisal, papyrus, and reeds.

“We expect that with the ban, the sisal industry, which has been on the decline, will rise,” he said.

The phasing out of plastics will leave a gap in the multi-billion dollar industry for biodegradable carriers.

Kenya, which is ranked the third largest producer of sisal in East Africa, will have adequate alternatives for plastic bags.

Taita Taveta, which has been categorised as the first sisal production zone in East Africa, will arguably be Kenya’s saviour when the ban on plastics takes effect.

In Kenya, annual plastic bags production expanded between 2010 and 2014 by a third to 400,000 tonnes, making the ban which will take effect on August 28 a tall order.

Earlier attempts to ban plastic bags have faltered twice – in 2007 and 2011.

New legislation

However, the government seems to have taken the issue seriously. New legislation provides for a fine of up to Sh4 million or a two-year jail term to deter the use of the bags.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said the penalties would apply to both individuals and manufacturers.

“We do not wish to go that route. However, that is what is provided by the Act,” she said.

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