Kenya: Plan to Ban Plastic Bottles Stopped Days to Deadline

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu (right) with chairman of Friends of Karura Karanja Njoroge during plastic clean-up in September 2017.

The environment watchdog has made an about-turn over plans to ban the use of plastic bottles, which was set to take effect at the end of this month.

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) had given manufacturers of plastic bottles up to April 31 to install collection points for the bottles across the country failure to which they were to effect the directive.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers had in December last year pledged to set up collection points as well as educate Kenyans on proper disposal.

The agreement was that plastics would be recycled and used in the construction industry.

"They should put those termini as they had promised and if they fail to do so we will issue a total ban on plastic bottles," Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu had earlier had said.

But in an interview with the Sunday Nation, Nema's corporate communications manager Evans Nyabuto said the government has now ditched the plans.

"There are no plans by the ministry or Nema to ban plastic bottles in Kenya. Instead, negotiations are already at advanced level to initiate a take-back scheme and encourage recycling," he said.

Data from the Environment ministry indicates that approximately 50 million bottles are used annually across the country. They are disposed of into the environment, forming a bulk of waste.

Mr Nyabuto said the take-back scheme will involve collection of waste bottles and selling them for recycling. The environmentalist also said although a ban on plastic bags has recorded 90 per cent success rate, some small-scale traders are still using them illegally.

He said Nema will close down all markets where traders have been flouting the plastic bag ban.

"A few traders across the country are still operating this illegal business. This must stop with immediate effect or else they should prepare to face the full force of the law," he said.

A Kenya Gazette notice published last March imposed a ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags for commercial and household packaging.

A few exceptions, which include disposal bags, those for handling biomedical, hazardous wastes and garbage bin liners were made.

The country has since been embracing alternatives.

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