KAM, Environment PS differ on need to ban plastic bags

Kenya will ban plastic bags beginning August 28. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya will ban plastic bags beginning August 28. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Environment ministry has clashed with industrialists over the economic cost of a ban on plastic bags, which takes effect in four days.

Environment principal secretary Charles Sunkuli said the ban would produce more economic benefits than the job losses cited by KAM.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers had earlier claimed that the country risks losing 600,000 jobs in the ban fronted by the ministry.

The country doesn’t even have adequate statistics to confirm (KAM’s) employment numbers, new jobs created by use of alternative bags will be far much more than what already exists,” said Mr Sunkuli.

“We have 40  manufacturers lined up to produce eco-friendly plastic bags.” KAM has maintained its opposition to the ban with CEO Phyllis Wakiaga saying 4,000 jobs generating Sh2bn annually could be created by plastics recycling enterprises.

“Kenya needs to create awareness on proper waste disposal right from the home to waste collection, transportation, segregation and recycling which will stimulate a thriving and valuable industry for the country,” she said.

In KAM’s cost analysis study titled There is Value in Waste, Ms Wakiaga says that handling of plastic bags is not as urgent an issue as dealing with obsolete electronic gadgets.

“E-waste is fast becoming the world’s largest contributor to pollution. As a country, have we thought about managing this waste since up to 10 million Kenyans own mobile phones?” she poses.

KAM chair Flora Mutahi has echoed the sentiments saying the high rate of urbanisation calls for concerted efforts to recycle the waste for economic gain.

Ms Mutahi said that industrialists were ready to partner with the government and create sustainable solutions through recycling.

In a petition filed before the High Court, KAM accuses Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu and Nema director- general Geoffrey Wahungu of failing to consult stakeholders on the ban.