Economy

Blow for firms as MPs rally behind plastic bags ban

Plastic wastes harm the environment. File photo | nmg
Plastic wastes harm the environment. File photo | nmg 

Efforts by manufacturers to save the multibillion shilling plastic business looks set to fail after Parliament scoffed at calls to reverse an order seeking to ban their products.

National Assembly’s Environment committee said the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has failed to provide sufficient ground in their petition asking Parliament to suspend a gazette notice stopping the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags.

“I see this move (petition) as aimed at delaying implantation of the new law. It looks suspicious and I think this is a delay tactic to impede implementation of this good notice so that it doesn’t happen,” said Committee’s Chairperson Amina Abdalla.

Kenya has been under pressure from its economic integration partners — Rwanda and Tanzania — to ban plastic bags cited a major threat to environment in East Africa.

On February 28 environment Secretary Judi Wakhungu published a legal notice announcing a ban on both domestic and commercial use of plastic from September this year.

The manufacturers argue that the notice is illegal because Parliament never approved it. KAM has asked Parliament to suspend the implementation of the notice on grounds that the six-month grace period to stop manufacture and use of plastic bags is too short.

The manufacturers lobby reckons the ban imposed by Ms Wakhungu will lead to loss of approximately 60,000 jobs and indirect employment through retailers, wholesalers and outlets which is well over 600,000.

“Any interference with the sector in terms of a prohibition would restrict the country’s competitive edge within the East African Community and the region,” KAM said in the petition.

The association is asking Parliament to amend the Environment Management Co-ordination Act, 1999 (EMCA) to ensure inclusion of fiscal incentives such as Green Levy Fund, tax incentives on capital goods and tax rebates to industries promoting management and imposition of fines for littering in unlawful places.

KAM is also seeking establishment of a waste management levy to be charged on all plastic at source (point of entry) at one per cent of the value equivalent to the product’s cost insurance and freight.