We will not turn back on plastic ban, Nema warns

The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has warned that the ban on plastic bags issued by the ministry of Environment earlier this year is in force.

Prof Geoffrey Wahungu, the Director-General of the environmental body, in a press statement on Saturday said that all those affected by the ban must comply.

He also clarified that the only plastic bags that will be allowed are those for industrial purposes and not those given over the counter.

“For greater certainty, the ban does not apply to flat bags used for industrial packaging as long as they are used for industrial primary packaging at source of the product and are not available at the counter or given freely outside the industrial setting,” he said.

“Furthermore, the bags must be labelled clearly by the industry manufacturing the product,” he added in reference to the only bags that will be allowed.


In February, Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof Judi Wakhungu announced the ban in a Gazette notice and issued six months for compliance.

She also defined a carrier bag as one that is “constructed with handles, and with or without gussets” while a flat bag is one that is “constructed without handles, and with or without gussets”.

READ: Plastic bags debate hots up as assembly seeks total ban

In tailoring, a gusset is defined as an extra piece of clothing sewn into another cloth to make it wider, stronger or more comfortable.

The move by the CS saw the country get praised by United Nations in the effort to conserve the environment.

“Kenya is taking decisive action to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty,” said Mr Erik Solheim, the executive director of UN Environment.

But such ventures have been tried in the country in the past and failed.

The Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) opposes the ban, saying consumer behaviour in waste disposal is the real problem.


“A ban that intends to enforce a sudden change in consumer behaviour will not succeed in the long run, as seen by countries that have had to reverse their decision on similar bans such as South Africa,” said the association.

But already even as the association says this, a chain retail supermarket like Nakumatt, one of the giants in the region has welcomed the move.

READ: Ban on polythene bags could be suspended

Supermarkets are one of the biggest distributors of plastic bags as they give them away as after sale services for wrapping or carrying goods bought.

The country is also not the only one to try to enforce such a decision.

The East African Legislative Assembly also passed a Bill last Thursday, supporting such a move in the East African Community bloc comprised of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

“The use, sale, manufacturing and importation of polythene shopping bags is banned in the partner states,” the Bill reads. In the Bill, they argue that this decision should be enforced within 18 months if signed by all heads of states involved.

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