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Nema bans low quality unwoven packaging bags

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 

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.

The National Environmental management Authority (Nema) says packaging bags made from low-gauge (poor quality) polypropylene material that discourages reuse of the bags must be stopped and will become illegal after March 31.

“All manufacturers, suppliers/distributors and users of these non-woven polypropylene bags should stop further manufacture, importation, supply and use of these bags in the Kenyan market effective March 31st,” said a notice published by Nema Director-General Geoffrey Wahungu.

Professor Wahungu said the dealers and manufacturers of the unwoven bags must await formulation of new acceptable standards that will be gazetted.

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The Nema boss observed that due to rising demand for the bags, some manufacturers have taken advantage of the situation to supply poor quality bags to the market, which are disposed off after single use.

Nema's notes that a lack of a defined mechanism on collection and disposal of the bags has worsened the littering menace.

The unwoven bags are widely used in supermarkets and other retail markets to package an array of items including groceries and cereal products.

The ban could adversely hurt numerous businesses across the entire economic chain from hawkers to manufacturers with retail outlets now left with a new challenge of providing low-cost packaging bags for their customers.

The unwoven polypropylene bags became a popular item two years ago after the government banned use of plastic bags.

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