This is one of the new drastic measures announced by the Ministry of Environment under the Environment Manufacturers and Co-ordination Act general penalty, which provides that those found culpable will serve a term no shorter than one year or a fine of no less than Sh2 million.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said this was part of Government efforts to ensure that the ban would be fully implemented.
Speaking at the United Nations head office in Nairobi yesterday, Prof Wakhungu said the penalties would apply to both individuals and manufacturers.
“We do not wish to go that route; however, that is what is provided by the Act,” she said.
National Environment Management Authority (Nema) Director General Geoffrey Wahungu said they were working on criminal charges for non-compliant individuals with the help of county governments.
“We are working towards domestication of the law for small offenders and hoping for assistance from the counties in implementing it,” said Mr Wahungu.
The CS said Kenyans should inculcate the habit of carrying alternative products because regulating bags could mitigate harmful impacts on the environment.
“Reducing bags use can also relieve pressure on landfills and waste management,” she said, adding that the ban would also create a good platform for local products and in turn boost the economy.
“Alternative products such as baskets will open up a new market that will boost the economy,” she said.
This is not the first time Kenya has attempted to ban the use of plastic bags. Similar attempts were made in 2007 and 2011, both unsuccessfully.
This is unlike Rwanda, the only country in the region that has managed to do away with the environmental pollutants.
“By mid-June next year, we will work on protecting our borders and entry points,” said the Nema boss.