The ban on plastic bags in Kenya took effect on 28th August 2017. The Authority has been patient enough in that it has given the public one and a half month creating awareness about the plastic bags ban especially on alternatives and information on other innovations of packaging.
During a press conference today at NEMA Headquarters, the NEMA Director General Prof Geoffrey Wahungu thanked the public for overwhelming support throughout the first six weeks that the Authority has been focusing on awareness creation and warning offenders. Ignorance is no defense, the DG stated. “So far, we have created enough awareness and opportunities for innovations to create alternatives to plastic packaging. Hence, going forward, we will enforce fully and we request full cooperation of Kenyans”, Prof Wahungu stated.
NEMA Director General, Prof Geoffrey Wahungu addressing the media at NEMA Headquarters
The Authority has confiscated 75 tonnes of plastic bags since August 28 which is going into recycling. “Due to this high compliance levels, as the country hosts UNES in December, Kenya will be showcasing the best practices examples to other countries. So far, the country has received from UNEP and other foreign missions.
So far, NEMA has received 1941 applications for clearance on primary industrial packaging out of which 691 have been rejected for various reasons. Several arrests have also been made which began with stockiest, manufacturers and retailers and now the arrests has been cascaded to users. “In enforcement of the ban, NEMA is committed to highest level of fairness. We are using the principle of proportionality for those being arrested. This is also being applied by the courts,” Prof Wahungu informed. This means that manufacturers, retailers, distributors, small-scale retailers and users cannot be treated the same. Therefore, the fines meted on them is proportionate to the offence and economic status.
The Authority is still working with major supermarkets such as Nakumatt, Uchumi, Naivas, Tuskys in the country that acts as plastic bags drop off points. The Authority has also negotiated with partners such as RedCross and Kasuku centre to collect the banned plastic bags. “We want to urge citizens to identify areas close them and drop plastic bags in their possession”, Prof Wahungu stated.
The Authority has also started a mob exercise and the results are evident throughout the country. Counties have played a critical role in facilitating mopping up of plastic bags in the environment. Prof Wahungu also urged the public to participate actively in cleaning the environment by not using the banned plastic bags.
The Authority is also working with sector based businesses such as fisheries, traders, bakeries, flower industries among others as well as supplying relevant information to Kadogo economy such as mama Mboga. This has made it possible for people to come up with very innovative alternatives to plastics packaging.