Firms to be surcharged in war on plastic bags

Monday September 4 2017

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu (left) and National Environment Management Authority Director General  Geoffrey Wahungu hold a copy of the National Guidelines for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Prof Wahungu has said firms that have been exempted from the plastic ban will be surcharged. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu (left) and National Environment Management Authority Director General Geoffrey Wahungu hold a copy of the National Guidelines for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Prof Wahungu has said firms that have been exempted from the plastic ban will be surcharged. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PAULINE KAIRU
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Users and manufacturers of polythene bags found dumped will be surcharged, the national environmental agency has said.

In an interview with the Nation on Sunday, National Environment Management Authority (Nema) director-general Geoffrey Wahungu said the agency will enforce the environmental surcharge on those who flout rules following a ban on plastic bags that took effect on Monday last week.

He said the agency is developing a law that will cover the surcharge policy for exempted polythene users and incentives such as tax waivers for alternative packaging material.

The polythene ban applies to the use, manufacture and importation of plastic carrier bags commonly given by retail stores. Those found defying the ban risk a fine of up to Sh4 million or a four-year jail term.

EXEMPTED

The government, however, exempted bags used for primary packaging, where the product is in direct contact with the plastic. The packaging is done at the source.

The exemption also applies to flat bags used as garbage and hazardous waste liners.

Prof Wahungu said these bags are exempt so long as they are legibly and permanently labelled with the names of the manufacturer or the primary user.

Kenya is introducing the universally recognised extended producer/user responsibility and take back schemes.

POLICY APPROACH

Prof Wahungu said Nema was putting in place measures to enforce the two policy approaches to hold producers responsible for the costs of managing their products when their use is over.

“This is a practice the world over to clean up the environment. Either the manufacturer of the bag or the user will be required to print their name and address on each bag. When we have pollution of the environment, we have branded material which we can collect and trace back to the manufacturer or user and surcharge them,” said Prof Wahungu.

“As of now, our hope is that we’ll not have to surcharge them because they will be responsible,” he said.