Plastic bag ban meant to reduce overall pollution-NEMA

Kenyan shoppers have been advised to prepare for a life without plastic as nationwide ban on plastic carrier bags is on the way.

Shopping bag litter is generally an eyesore and the imminent ban is aimed at combating the environmental problems caused by plastic bags.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Director General (DG), Prof. Geoffrey Wahungu says the ban meant to reduce ‘overall pollution’ will take effect in two months’ time.

He says plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging will no longer be in use from September 2017 when the prohibition takes effect.

Prof. Wahungu said there will be no turning back and urged the affected manufacturers to put in place measures to ensure compliance.

Prof. Wahungu says the ban on plastics is a well thought out environmental measure that seeks to address, once and for all, the litter problem and specifically the ‘conspicuous plastic pollution in the country.’

He says NEMA has launched a public awareness campaign ahead of the ban to promote the use of alternative environment friendly and recyclable materials.

‘We are at the moment, together with other stakeholders, involved in creating awareness of the impeding changes’ he said in Mombasa on Wednesday.

He added, ‘we are also in the process trying to demystify the ban and exploring the natural and eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bags.’

The NEMA DG says Kenyans and the plastic industry players need to understand the ban and what they need to do to adjust.

The DG who was speaking at a Pwani Mazingira forum at Mombasa Beach Hotel said there will be no compromise on enforcing the ban on the production, distribution and use of plastic bags in the country.

The Director of Administration (DA) State Department of Fisheries, Rashid Khator who attended the forum called for the creation of environmental awareness among school children.

Khator says schools need to embrace environmental education and inculcate pro-environment and conservation behaviour among young learners.

‘Environmental education among school children will motivate them to address complex environmental matters later in life’ he said.

Local environmental groups have welcomed the imminent ban of paper bags for packaging, saying they take too long to decompose and pose environmental hazard to humans and wildlife.

Led by Godfrey Karume, the chairman of the Malindi Green Town Movement, they welcomed the proposed ban, noting that plastic bags were polluting the beautiful creeks and beaches up and down the coastline.

The ban marks a step forward in the fight against pollution and will in the long run clean up the country, said Karume a veteran Malindi hotelier.

He added ‘the sooner we get rid of plastic bags that also have a devastating effect on marine life the better for the tourism sector’.

Source: Kenya News Agency