Ban on plastic bags continues to receive mixed reactions

The government’s ban on the plastic bags has been received with divergent reactions from both traders and consumers across the country since it was implemented four months ago.

The government through the Environment, water and Natural resources ministry banned the use of the bags citing environmental pollution and destruction of marine life.

However, the move has been criticized by traders and consumers of food commodities packed in the bags saying the government rushed to implement the ban without providing optional-cheap-substitutes.

The small scale traders say that it has been a tough road in terms of cost of packaging since the ban was implemented in September 2017.

They say that the polythene bags were cheap hence living a better profit margin besides being water proof therefore handy for carrying valuables even during rains.

The government’s proposed packaging bags are expensive and most of them are made of non-water proof material.

Imagine a customer coming to buy vegetables from my grocery, let’s say for sh.20 and the carrier bag is selling at sh.30 or sh.50? The bags are too expensive and as small scale traders we are not making any profits at all, said Moraa,a grocery owner in Nyamira town.

Consumers can’t afford to buy the bags alongside commodities, the government should find a way of controlling the prices lest we are turned to beggars,Moraa added.

Sam Mogaka, pineapples vendor who operates in Kebirigo market, Nyamira County said that his business has gone down since the September plastic bag ban.

He said he opted to using sticks to sell his pieces of peeled and sliced pineapples instead of the wrapping them in the polythene paper to avoid the government’s fine.

Mogaka told KNA that his sales have since gone down as most customers doubt the hygiene of the commodity as because it gets exposed. He said he used to wrap them in polythene bags to avoid contamination.

My business has gone downsince the ban. I used to wrap the pieces of the pealed pineapples in the polythene bags but have since opted to use improvised sticks which a customer uses to hold as he/she eats it, sometime the fruit falls before the consumersbites it and forces me to give him another piece, and that’s a loss.

Prior to the ban, data showed that up to 86,000 bags were being sold or used in Nairobi daily while 24 million were used countrywide every month.

Plastic bags take up to 100 years to decompose. In the meantime, they block drainages, pollute rivers and destroy marine lives.

According to the United Nations Environment, there will be more plastics than fish in seas by 2050 as over 8 million plastics leak to the seas every year posing a danger to the marine life hence the need for an alternative to plastic bags to curb the hazard.

Source: Kenya News Agency