The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) says it will allow the manufacture, importation and use of plastic bags for primary industrial packaging and garbage collection.
Primary packaging is seen at the point-of-sale and is meant to contain and protect the product, mainly consumables like food, drinks and pharmaceuticals.
Nema made the clarification Monday amid widespread anxiety on the plastic bags ban, which comes into effect on Monday next week.
“Nema …wishes to inform all manufacturers, importers and users that plastic bags used for primary industrial packaging are exempted as long as they are used for industrial primary packaging at the source of the product and are not available on sale at the counter or given freely outside the industrial setting,” said Nema in a notice placed on local dailies.
Nema said the ban exemption also includes disposal bags for handling biomedical, hazardous waste and garbage bin liners.
The agency said the ban applies to carrier bags and flat bags constructed with handles and with or without gussets.
Nema asked all manufacturers, importers and users of the plastic bags for primary industrial packaging to obtain clearance letters allowing them to continue with the manufacture, importation and use of the defined plastic bags.
Reacting to the development, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) claimed the exemption had not been gazetted in an earlier notice on the ban, adding that the policy’s implementation was flawed.
“This (exemption) had not been exempted in the gazette notice. Additionally, this clarification is being made in the Nema FAQ (frequently asked questions), which is not a legal document. The exemption will only be effected through a legal document or regazettement,” said KAM sector manager Samuel Matonda.
“When there is a lack of clarity in any policy issued it creates a lot of confusion for businesses in terms of the next steps towards compliance and leaves a grey area in its execution which may lead to unfair taxation and additional charges on local businesses.”