Plastics traders in North Rift count losses ahead of ban

Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu with Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu. FILE PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NMG
Environment Secretary Judi Wakhungu with Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu. FILE PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NMG 

Manufactures and traders of plastic bags in the North Rift region say they stand to lose millions of shillings while hundreds of workers face the sack as a ban looms next week.

Some of the traders disclosed that they have stock worth over Sh5 million which they will not exhaust before the August 29 deadline.

“Most of our customers have avoided purchasing the goods due to fears of hefty penalties,” said Samuel Maina, a trader at the Eldoret retail market who has stock worth over Sh40,000.

He supplies the plastic bags to supermarkets, retail shops and groups dealing in tree seedlings which have been dealt a blow by a looming embargo on the materials.

The Ministry of Environment has announced a fine of Sh50,000 for anyone found with plastic shopping bags after next week's expiry period.

Manufacturers found flouting the ban will be fined between Sh2 and Sh4 million.


“The National Environment Management Authority and County Governments are expected to enforce the ban,” explained John Chumo, Secretary, National Environment Complaints Committee.

He said the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) have already developed alternative biodegradable materials to help the transition from plastic bags.

“There should be no fears of loss of revenue or employment since we already have a substitute for the plastic bags,” said Mr Chumo.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has opposed the ban arguing that the move will result in the loss of more than 60,000 jobs.

The lobby has taken its fight with the Environment ministry to court, where it has filed a petition accusing Secretary Judi Wakhungu and Nema director general Geoffrey Wahungu of ignoring requests for dialogue on the matter.

The industrialists also accuse the two State bodies of failing to consult stakeholders before implementing the ban.