Kenyans urged to embrace alternative bags

Monday August 28 2017

The National ban on plastic bags is only a day away. Kenyans however were still carrying around paper bags on August 27, 2017 in Nairobi's CBD.  PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The National ban on plastic bags is only a day away. Kenyans however were still carrying around paper bags on August 27, 2017 in Nairobi's CBD. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By FAITH NYAMAI
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The ban on plastic bags in Kenya takes effect Monday even as governors on Sunday supported the directive, saying it will yield a clean environment.

The Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok in a statement to newsrooms said the county bosses will work with the Ministry of Environment to enforce the ban in devolved units.

“The council supports the ban and will work with the national government and other stakeholders to ensure that the ban comes into effect,” said Mr Nanok.

The council pledged to work with the government in creating awareness on the ban and on environmentally friendly alternatives.

The council urged Kenyans to use alternative bags such as the Manila paper, canvas, jute and biodegradable plastics.

Mr Nanok said that plastics have adverse effects on the environment. “Apart from taking a century to degrade, plastic bags inhibit absorption of soil nutrients and further lead to suffocation and indigestion in both land and aquatic life,” he said.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu announced the ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags on February 28 this year.

By Sunday, many Kenyans were still using the paper bags to carry goods.

Civic education

A spot check by Nation established that major supermarkets such as Tuskys, Naivas, Eastmatt, Best Lady shops and retail shops in Nairobi were still packaging shopping for their customers in plastic bags.

Most of the citizens interviewed blamed the government for failing to engage the public on civic education and failing to provide the alternative biodegradable bags soon after the ban was gazetted.

Ms Trizah Gatweri said the ban will affect everyone as the alternative bags the government is suggesting are not being sold in the market in large quantities.

“From Monday and Tuesday, our children will be going to school. How will they carry their shopping? The bags being sold in the market are too expensive,” she said.

Ms Sheela Keavile said the government should have started phasing out plastic bags slowly since last year.

“What will happen to the plastic paper bags we already have in our houses?” She said.

Josphat Mutiso, a trader along Nairobi's Moi Avenue, said he will suffer loses since he has a stock of plastic bags that he is yet to clear.

But on the other hand, hawkers in the city were all smiles Sunday as they made a killing from selling reusable bags.

The bags are ranging from Ksh100 ($0.97) to KSh300 ($2.91).

Support

“The bags are quite expensive compared to the plastic paper bags, which have been costing from as low as Ksh5 ($0.05) and Ksh10 ($0.10),” said Ms Jane Wairimu, a hawker.

At the same time, some supermarkets have supported the ban.

Among the retailers that are up in the game to meet the new directive by the Ministry of Environment are Nakumatt and Uchumi.

Nakumatt Supermarket has been running an initiative that seeks to reduce the consumption and dispensing of plastic bags across the Nakumatt network by encouraging the voluntary use of reusable bags, used cartons and bales to package shopping items.