Garbage collection cost to rise as Nema bans plastic bags for organic waste

A pile of garbage at Mukuru Kayaba slums in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has banned the use of plastic bags for the collection of organic waste such as food leftovers.

In a statement released on April 8, Nema said the ban will take effect after 90 days. 

“All organic waste generated by households, private sector and public sector institutions, religious institutions, private and public functions and events shall strictly be segregated and placed in 100 percent biodegradable garbage bags/bin liners only,” said Nema.

The environment watchdog said that waste service providers are required to provide biodegradable garbage bags to their clients for the collection of organic waste.

“The use of conventional plastic bags/bin liners for collection of organic waste shall thus cease forthwith,” said Nema.

The Authority’s move is likely to increase the cost of garbage collection, especially for households.

Immediately after the government banned plastic shopping bags in 2017, outlets started charging for carrier bags, effectively opening new revenue streams for supermarkets, shoe stockists, and food sellers.

Apartments in Nairobi and other towns charge tenants a monthly fee for garbage collection.

The fee starts from as low as Sh100 monthly and tenants usually get plastic bags from garbage collectors who come once or twice a week.

Because biodegradable bags are costlier than plastic ones, landlords will likely raise the garbage collection fee, putting further strain on the already burdened families.

“The waste shall be collected separately and transported to a designated material recovery facility for further processing,” added Nema.

80pc compliance

This comes seven years after Kenya banned single-use plastic bags as a means to reduce environmental pollution. The ban, however, exempted materials used for industrial primary packaging, disposable bags for handling of biomedical and hazardous waste, and garbage bin liners.

Nema previously said the ban had achieved a compliance rate of 80 percent and helped drastically cut plastic pollution that previously made drainages a nightmare in cities and towns.

Despite this apparent success, some unscrupulous traders have continued to smuggle single-use plastic bags into the country from neighbouring countries through porous borders.

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