Push for free carrier bags after plastic ban

Thursday December 28 2017

Consumer lobby, Cofek now wants supermarkets to scrap the fee on carrier bags barely four months after the ban on plastic bags. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Consumer lobby, Cofek now wants supermarkets to scrap the fee on carrier bags barely four months after the ban on plastic bags. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By BONFACE OTIENO
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Consumer lobby, Cofek now wants supermarkets to scrap the fee on carrier bags barely four months after the ban on plastic bags.

Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) secretary-general Stephen Mutoro reckoned that consumers are feeling the pinch of paying for the non-plastic bags, whose costs range between Sh8 and Sh100.

“With many having exhausted their budgets, they either have to be packed in unhealthy cartons or one-paid for carrier bag, which will see food items, detergents and even chemicals mixed up. “Such items needs to be packed separately to avoid contamination,” said Mr Mutoro.

He said that retailers should factor the cost of the carrier bags in the overall pricing for free packaging. The ban on plastic carrier bags came into force in August 28, which means that anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying them could face fines of up to Sh4 million or prison sentences of up to four years.

Kenya joined more than 40 other countries including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags.

Manufacturers who use polythene to wrap products are exempted from the ban.

Industrialists lobby Kenya Association of Manufacturers said the ban will cost 60,000 jobs and force 176 manufacturers to close shop.

Mr Mutoro said the consumer lobby continues to receive complaints from shoppers unhappy with paying for the carrier bags.

Retailers said the bags, unlike plastics are expensive. “The cost of carrier bags would affect the P&L (profits and loss account),” says Uchumi Supermarket acting CEO Mohamed Ahmed.