Nema outlaws use of non-woven bags by end month

Ex-Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural resources Prof Judi Wakhungu (second right) with Principal secretary Julius Sunkuli (right) during the launch of Safaricom Eco - Friendly Reusable Bags in Nakuru on June 6, 2017.PHOTO: KIPSANG JOSEPH
NAIROBI, KENYA: It will be illegal to use non-woven bags next month following an order from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

The non-woven bags replaced plastic papers banned in 2017 for environmental reasons.

On Tuesday, the environment authority issued an ultimatum on the usage and manufacture of non-woven bags over the poor quality.

To this effect, the Authority announced that Kenyans should stop using the bags from March 31, 2019.

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“The Authority directs that all manufacturers, importers, suppliers and users of these non-woven polypropylene bags should stop further manufacture, importation, supply and use of these bags in the Kenyan market effective March 31, 2019,” the notice read in part.

The authority said the introduction of the non-woven polypropylene carrier bags in the market was meant to replace the banned polythene bags. However, this has since been misused by traders and manufacturers who have introduced low-quality carrier bags.

“The authority noted that over time, due to the rising need of the non-woven bags in the market, the manufacturers are producing very ‘low gauge’ poor quality non-woven bags which cannot be used multiple times but are disposed of after single use,” the notice read.

NEMA said the single usage of these bags would eventually lead to heavy environmental consequences due to poor disposal practices currently being experienced in the country.

It added that this is coupled up with the lack of requisite infrastructure to sustainably manage these bags.

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NEMA held that the ban will be effective until the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) gazettes a standard that will inform the quality of non-woven bags needed in the Kenyan market.

People were therefore advised to comply accordingly, failure to which the Authority will instigate enforcement action according to the law.

After the ban on plastic bags came into effect on August 28, 2017, NEMA said it made great strides in providing clarifications on the acceptable alternative options to the plastic carrier bags, which were affected by the ban.

The Government declared there was no going back on it enforcing the ban and asked Kenyans to embrace alternatives that included bags made from sisal, paper, cloth, papyrus, and gunny bags.

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