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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Nema should always ensure clarity in bans

Shoppers leave a supermarket carrying unwoven shopping bags.
Shoppers leave a supermarket carrying unwoven shopping bags. Retail outlets, distributors and manufacturers of unwoven low-gauge packaging bags have 10 days to deplete stocks after the State identified them as a new environmental hazard. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Though welcome, the decision by the environmental watchdog, Nema, to ban non-woven polypropylene shopping bags, has caught users and companies on the wrong foot.

The National Environment Management Authority says the end of this month will mark the last day that people will be allowed to carry their shopping and personal effects using such material.

The agency says manufacturers have resorted to producing “low gauge” and poor quality products in the race to satisfy high demand for the bags.

That protecting the environment is a crucial matter cannot be debated. It is what all progressive societies are doing. However, players who have invested in their operations need to be given time to re-calibrate their machines or look for other options.

Two weeks is a short time. But that said, it would be advisable for investors to manufacture quality bags that are both environmentally-friendly and affordable. A good number of companies are servicing orders either from supermarkets, which are their biggest clients as well as other customers and the abrupt directive from Nema is bound to disrupt their operations.

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Long-term investments

Nema needs to create an environment in which firms are able to predict what the future holds given the long-term investments that go into setting up operations.

Instead of jumping from one regime to another, the Kenya Bureau of Standards should also intervene and come up with a standard for packaging materials that will stand the test time for ease of business predictability.

This way both manufacturers and shoppers will be able to plan adequately.

Besides the manufacturers and shoppers who had already adjusted to the new carriers bags will have to dig deeper into their purses to take their goods home given that the woven types come with extra cost implications. As such, consideration must be accorded to both producers and consumers to create certainty.

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