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Economy

Nema denies 691 firms new licences for plastic packaging

Nema Director-General Geoffrey Wahungu (left), deputy director monitoring Betty Nzioka and evaluation and deputy director compliance Zephania Ouma during a media briefing on the ban of polythene papers bags in Nairobi, October 13, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
Nema Director-General Geoffrey Wahungu (left), deputy director monitoring Betty Nzioka and evaluation and deputy director compliance Zephania Ouma during a media briefing on the ban of polythene papers bags in Nairobi, October 13, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

The government has rejected applications by 691 firms that re-applied for licences to continue producing plastic packaging products following the ban on plastic bags.

The National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) said on Friday that the companies failed to make full disclosure on their operations.

The applications were also rejected because the firms failed to provide proof of lack of alternatives or produced excessive or unnecessary packaging while others were for secondary use, Nema Director-General Prof Geoffrey Wahungu said.

Nema allowed 1,250 manufacturers and importers to continue operations but each firm will have to include its identity details on the product.

This will enable Nema pursue companies whose waste products are found littering the environment.

Not tolerated

On Friday, Nema warned small traders that use of flat bags will not be tolerated.

“Our next battlefront is on small traders within markets, roadside kiosks, fruit vendors and foodstuff sellers who package their wares in flat-bags.

"We have trained our officers and instructed all enforcement agencies from security personnel to county government enforcement teams to remain vigilant on anyone found with a polythene bag,” Prof Wahungu said.

Currently, carrots, onions, freshly cut kales, cabbage and peeled peas and freshly cut watermelon fruits are packaged in polythene bags.

Fruit vendors also package their fruits in flat bags which they proceed to hawk within bus termini and other places.

Night production

Prof Wahungu said a local manufacturer had also been arrested producing bags at night.

Three consignments were confiscated from the factory ready for transportation to the local market, he said.

He said investigations were ongoing and the factory owner would be charged, adding that such offenders should face punitive sentences while small offenders should be let off the hook with smaller fines.

“Polythene bags are still on sale and are being transported at night but we have instructed our surveillance teams to act firmly during impromptu searches on public buses and private vehicles found ferrying the prohibited products at night,” he said.

He said new industries on secondary packaging bags made from cotton, sisal and paper had sprung up, creating a vibrant chain for locally produced raw materials.

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