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Nema denies shutting down plastic manufacturers

August 29, 2017 5:09 PM
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Manufacturers had enough time to adjust accordingly since gazette notice on banning plastic bags was released on February 28.

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has insisted that it has not shut down any plastic manufacturing company.

Nema said plastic producing companies are free to continue manufacturing but only the streams that have not been banned by the authority.

This is as the Ministry of health has advised against use of newspapers by food vendors as wrappings.

With plastic companies closing, many small economies in the informal sector have been forced to improvise with some using old newspapers to wrap foods.

A gazette notice dated February 28 by the Environment Cabinet Secretary Prof Judy Wakhungu stated that carrier bags and flat bags (with or without gussets) would be outlawed in six months.

This meant manufacturers, suppliers and users had six months to adjust to the ban by finding alternatives.

It has been realized, however, that some firms have shut down their plants entirely leading to loss of jobs to hundreds of workers.

An example is Kings plastic where when the Nema inspectorate team led by Director General Geoffrey Wahungu visited, one of the managers who identified himself as Jagadish seemed not to be aware of what exactly had been banned.

"We are closed due to the polythene ban until further notice," read the notice pinned on the main entrance.

But Nema boss Wahungu has said companies have no reason to close their plants and asked them to engage the authority for a way forward.

Wahungu said there is still room for innovations and that the authority is open to ideas by manufacturers on how they can come up with better solutions.

"It might not be economical to produce what has been banned but manufacturers can a still produce environment friendly bags," said Wahungu.

Wahungu said though some workers have lost their jobs, the authority has been in constant communication with manufacturers for the last ten years on plastic ban and they were well aware of the impending outcome.

"It will be very unfair to ban certain types of plastic without carrying out research. We are not just picking products and ban them," Wahungu said.

He noted that so far, the reception of the ban especially among Kenyans has been positive. Though they are not arresting anyone yet, Wahungu said a time will come when counties will be imposing punitive measures.


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