Kenya faces a dilemma as the June 5 deadline for the government ban on single-use plastic bottles within wildlife sanctuaries inches closer.
Currently, the Covid-19 pandemic is raging, necessitating the need for hand sanitisers, which are mostly in single-use plastic bottles, raising queries on implementation of the ban.
The ban was announced in Canada by President Kenyatta during the opening plenary of Day 3 of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference.
The move on single-use plastic bottles follows the ban on plastic carrier bags in 2016.
Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB) director Karin Boomsma said that despite the challenges posed by the ban, the move creates a new opportunity for businesses to innovate and come up with new products that are reusable, biodegradable and long lasting.
“I’m not foreseeing a request for extension of time since businesses had a whole year to research and develop new products that are environment-friendly. This is an opportune moment to review lifespan of packaging products and activate regenerative systems that give disposed plastic packaging material a new lease of life and use,” she said.
Ms Boomsma said alternative packaging material makers must move fast to establish business linkages to fill the vacuum to be left by providing new products that are allowed within national parks.
The head of the private sector lobby said businesses must embrace sustainable business models that not only enhance incomes, but improve livelihoods within communities they operate in via provision of jobs and funds for community development as well as well as championing environmental protection.
DEPEND ON PRICING
She noted that successful uptake of the new packaging alternatives for water and beverages as well as sanitisers will depend on pricing and availability to a wide range of people.
“This is a conversation that we must have as a nation. People are becoming more and more conscious of the harmful effects plastics have on the environment and it is just a matter of time before they start shying away from popular products packaged in plastic containers,” she said.
Some stakeholders have mooted a use-and-collect platform that advocates for a circular economy that averts harmful effects of plastics.
Manufacturers of assorted products packaged in plastic containers and retailers that sell them have mooted a self-regulated extended user responsibility plan in which they contribute towards collecting and recycling used containers.
At some high-end malls, bins have been provided for disposal of plastics that are ferried to recyclers for making other plastic products such as basins, pails, tiles, ceiling materials and floor carpets.
The generated funds, managed by Petco Kenya, are used to pay contracted recyclers who oversee collection of plastic containers nationally.