Ban on plastic bags starts

Plastic bags in a garbage heap. Plastic bags are classified as an environmental hazard. [Photo:Caroline Chebet, Standard]
No more permits will be issued to companies that manufacture plastic paper bags.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has also announced that the existing licences will be cancelled.

The authority said the licences will be declared null and void once the legal notice on the use of plastic bags comes into effect.

Kebs Managing Director Charles Ongwae said the authority would implement the Ministry of Environment guidelines and order on the bags.

“The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) will implement the legal notice, but on our part, we will withdraw the permits we have issued,” he said.

Addressing the press at a Nakuru hotel, Mr Ongwae termed the issue as serious, noting that the authority would monitor all entry points into the country to prevent plastic bags from coming in.

At the same time, Ongwae announced that the authority has received Sh300 million from the European Union for the upgrading of its laboratories.

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The money, he said, was part of a Sh1.2 billion grant to Kebs, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, and the Directorate of Veterinary Services.

Ongwae said the money had been used to buy state-of-the-art equipment that was currently being installed in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Adhere to rules

The authority is expanding its testing capabilities especially in Mombasa, through which 90 per cent of imports pass.

“We will be moving to a bigger office where the facilities will be installed and this means testing for goods coming from other countries will be fast and easy.”

“We will in the next two months open a laboratory in Kisumu that will serve the lake region and parts of the Rift Valley and later open another in Eldoret to serve the North Rift,” he said.

The authority called on businessmen to adhere to rules on goods and that action would be taken against businesses that sell sub-standard goods.

Ongwae said the agency has declared war against businesses that operate against set standards on goods.

The agency has put in place a market surveillance team that will conduct inspection of all business premises to ensure quality of goods. “When such goods (sub-standard) are identified, they will be seized immediately and action taken against the owners,” said Ongwae.

He said the agency would destroy sub-standard goods to stop them from being sold to consumers.

“Nema allows us to burn some goods that do not meet the standards of the agency and if forced to, we will burn them. Those that cannot be burnt will be seized,” said the director.

About 100 companies that sold sub-standard goods have been closed down in the past three years.

The MD called on businesses to stock quality goods.

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