NEMA-KAM Joint Committee on Plastic Bags Formed

By HSE East Africa | Friday Sep 1, 2017

The National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) have agreed to form a joint crisis committee to resolve outstanding issues arising from the ban on plastic bags that came into effect on 28th August, 2017.

This decision was reached during a meeting held on Wednesday, 30th August that brought together NEMA director-general Geoffrey Wahungu and about 500 manufacturers of plastic bags. The manufacturers have suspended operations pending clarifications regarding exemptions to the ban.

According to NEMA, the manufacture, importation and use of plastic bags for primary industrial packaging and garbage collection were exempted from the ban. Manufacturers, importers and users of these categories of plastic bags are required to obtain clearance letters allowing them to continue in the business. Consumer goods companies and industrial packaging firms are also required to label their packaging material to ensure the exemptions made for primary packaging are not abused. Applicants for this exemption are required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the authority an effective Take-Back Scheme (TBS) and/or Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Manufacturers however cited complexities in obtaining clearance from NEMA as one of the challenges they face and sought clarifications from the environmental watchdog. They also sought clarification on the labelling required for primary packaging.

KAM also wanted clarification on the new terminologies that are being introduced as part of exemptions or new directives insisting that it is important the new terminologies are understood uniformly by all stakeholders.

Meanwhile, users holding plastic paper bags at home will have an opportunity to return the bags to select retailers who have initiated a recycling program. The Director General of the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Geoffrey Wahungu says Uchumi, Tuskys and Nakumatt Supermarkets have agreed on a take back scheme.

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