The six-month notice given to importers, retailers and dealers ahead of the ban on manufacturing and importing plastic bags was reasonable time for necessary adjustments, the Environment ministry has said.
The administration secretary at the Environment ministry, William Kiprono, Monday told the court that there were two failed attempts to ban the use of plastic bags.
On March 15 the government issued a ban on the manufacture and import of plastic bags and gave dealers six months to stop dealing in them. The deadline lapses on August 28.
“The six-month notice is reasonable period for the industry and consumers to adjust to the new packaging requirements,” said Mr Kiprono.
Traders had protested against the deadline arguing that it is too short to enable them clear their stocks and fulfil their contractual obligations.
They also claimed that there was no public participation before the regulation was passed. But Mr Kiprono insisted that it was time the ban was effected, citing previous failed attempts to control the negative impact of plastics on the environment. He said that about 24 million plastic bags are used in Kenya each month. He said that research showed that nearly 40 per cent of cattle and goats that died during the recent drought had ingested plastic bags
He said that 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastics end up in the Indian Ocean each year, endangering sea animals and plants.
Mr Kiprono said the ministry had engaged various stakeholders on the matter, through the National Environment Management Authority, since 2006.
Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi are among countries that have announced such bans.
Kenyan supermarkets alone hand out 100 million plastic bags every year, the United Nations said.