EDITORIAL: Delaying plastic bottle ban is welcome move

A man cleans plastic bottles by the banks of River Ndarugu in Nakuru County. file photo | nmg
A man cleans plastic bottles by the banks of River Ndarugu in Nakuru County. file photo | nmg 

It might look like a long time ago, but the plastic ban is basically in its sixth month. However, the transformation especially in terms of environmental cleanliness is enormous.

That tells you the government, if willing, can enforce laws that have massive impact on the quality of life.

Except for a few border regions that are trying to defy the rule, most of the country has moved on. We recommend the authorities be absolutely firm in enforcing the ban.

We note that the timing of the ban caught stakeholders including manufacturers—used to skullduggery of lobbying for previous bans to get lifted—and the consumers steeped in a plastic-paper culture off-guard. The truth is that there are alternatives to the blanket ban that include raising taxes on certain categories of the product and recycling.

As a matter of fact, China until recently was importing tonnes of garbage from places like Europe to feed its successful recycling industry.

That is why National Environment Management Authority’s (Nema) delay in implementing a ban on plastic bottles, a menace in the neighbourhood of plastic papers, in April is commendable. It says the ban will await State guidelines on the matter.

One of the issues to be addressed is the collection of the bottles for recycling, a matter the plastic paper bags manufacturers—or the government through taxation and offering facilities—should have considered with the previous ban.

We believe manufacturers of harmful products including alcoholic beverages and cigarettes have a responsibility to mitigate their activities through taxation or investment in relevant infrastructure.

Whatever guidelines the government comes up with, it has to think about job creation too.

If the bottle-making plants cannot cope with the demand, it is important to delay action to avoid killing jobs as well as exporting the same. Right now we have a few glass bottle manufacturers. 

The caution in addressing the matter though is welcome. But let stakeholders come up with an economically winning formula to address littering.