Economy

Shoppers spared plastic bag levy

women

A Nairobi woman sorts out plastic bags for re-use. A Bill sponsored by Minority Leader Abdi Hassan proposed a levy on the bags. PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • The Bill, which was brought to the County Assembly in June, proposed charges depending on the quality and size of plastic bags, further choking households already struggling to make ends meet.

A Bill that would have seen Nairobi shoppers pay a fee for using plastic bags to carry goods was withdrawn on Wednesday.

The Bill, which was brought to the County Assembly in June, proposed charges depending on the quality and size of plastic bags, further choking households already struggling to make ends meet.

Minority Leader Abdi Hassan, who sponsored the bill, said the withdrawal was informed by the need for more consultations.

Proceeds from the paper levy, which was to be collected by retailers on behalf of City Hall, were to fund the collection and disposal of the bags.

“The withdrawal is to allow for more consultations with manufacturers, retailers, consumers and the public. I will reintroduce it after the consultations,” Mr Hassan said.

The Bill was intended to bring Nairobi in line with other countries such as Wales.

“No retailer shall make available to consumers any plastic carry bag free of charge. (This is to) encourage their re-use and minimising plastic waste generation,” reads the Bill. The intention was to capture the entire retail chain, including supermarkets, large stores, small corner shops and grocery stores.

Accounting nightmare

The inclusion of corner shops and grocery stores will create an accounting nightmare since most of them do not offer receipts. In Britain, which is about to put in place a similar law, small corner shops will be excluded.

The intention of the Bill is to reduce the use of polythene plastic bags. It’s the latest attempt by Kenya and the region to curb their use. The Assembly could, however, still introduce an environmental charge in the Finance Bill, which places the burden on retailers and not consumers.

The proposed environment levy will see businesses that deal with plastic bags and supermarkets pay to Sh60,000 annually. Other firms will pay a lower charge of Sh2,400 yearly.

Figures from Wales and Ireland show that a consumer charge on use of paper bags has had an immediate effect of reducing use of plastics by 80 per cent or more, the BBC reports.