KAM Says Ban On Plastic Bags Usage Will Create Uneven Playing Field,Calls For Further Discussion

Two weeks after a gazette notice announcing the official ban on plastic bags in Kenya by Environment and Natural resources Cabinet secretary Judy Wakhungu ,the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has released a statement claiming that Local manufacturers were not consulted on the decision.

“Local manufacturers were not extensively consulted on the decision to effect the ban on plastic bags.  According to the Statutory Instruments Act, any regulation-making authorities should undertake appropriate consultation and impact assessment before issuing a policy directive – especially if the directive is likely to have direct or substantial effect on business” read part of the statement sent to BizNews.

The ban comes into effect on September 1 and covers plastic bags categorized as the carrier bags and flat bags where a carrier bag is defined as one constructed with handles, and with or without gussets. The flat bags are constructed without handles, and with or without gussets. “The ministry has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging,” Wakhungu said in the gazette notice

According to KAM, there are currently over 176 plastic manufacturing companies in Kenya which directly employ 2.89% of all Kenyan employees and indirectly employ over 60,000 people.

If effected come September 1, these jobs and livelihoods will be negatively affected . The manufacturing sector as a whole will also be negatively impacted as they utilise plastics for packaging products. Imported products packaged in plastics are not affected by the ban and this will create an uneven playing field for the sector.

Close Down Production

Additionally, the association of manufacturers expresses their worry on the 6 month period provided for the ban to take full effect claiming it is not adequate, as the companies cannot close down production and clear their stocks within this period.

”  There is also a need to put in measures to avail alternatives to substitute the plastic bags, the country is not in a position to offer this alternative currently or in the next 6 months” the statement reads

KAM explains that Local Manufacturers are committed to responsible business practices which are geared environmental conservation and have in this regard been paying excise duty towards waste management for years, which unfortunately has not been applied to address plastic waste.

“Moreover, for this year’s budget the plastic sector has proposed that a fund to address plastic waste management be established and run through a Public-Private Partnership as a long-term and sustainable solution to this matter. This is because the challenge with plastics is not a production issue but a waste management and consumer behavior issue. A ban that intends to enforce a sudden change in consumer behavior will not succeed in the long run, as can be seen by countries that have had to reverse their decision on similar bans such as South Africa.

We remain open to discuss the implementation of the waste management proposal already shared with the relevant Government agencies.”

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