Reconsider scrapping duty on local plastics


A security guard stands next to pallets of plastic waste which was off-loaded from a 40ft container at the Mitchell Cotts CFS in Kibarani soon after it arrived from UK. PHOTO | NMG

Kenya became a global reference point in the war on pollution when it banned single-use plastics seven years ago.

The ban came with a steep fine of up to Sh4 million for anyone found producing, or selling the plastic bags as well as those found carrying them.

Though the enforcement of the policy by the environmental watchdog has had challenges, it has become largely successful after the majority of the residents in towns and retail chains found alternatives, making it a normal way of life.

But the State has proposed to scrap excise taxes on local manufacturers, which experts say would give the firms a lifeline to go back into mass production, in a policy shift that goes against efforts to get rid of single-use plastics within Kenyan borders.

The Finance Bill 2023 seeks to remove the locally manufactured plastics from excise duty as it imposes duty on the imported “articles of plastic of tariff heading 3923.30.00 and 3923.90.90.”

The proposal, if it becomes law in its current form, will lead to increased production of local plastics that are competitive and therefore cheaper, creating employment.

However, increased production of cheaper plastics will aggravate environmental pollution.

Nairobi alone produces about 2,400 tonnes of plastic waste a day, of which 60 percent is collected and only 10 percent recycled with the rest dumped in undesignated places or burned.

Kenya cannot afford to back-pedal on the fight against plastics, not when the whole world is taking steps to fight pollution.