Manufacturers suspend operations over plastic ban

NAIROBI, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s umbrella body of industrialists said Tuesday some firms have been forced to suspend their manufacturing and delivery operations following the recent ban on plastics by the government.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) said the plastic bag makers had wound up operations while some have relieved nearly thousands of workers of their duties. “KAM has received formal notification from plastic bag manufacturers of industrial and non-industrial packaging that with effect from Aug. 28 they have temporarily suspended their manufacturing and delivery operations following the recent ban on plastics,” KAM said in a statement issued in Nairobi. The lobby said the reasons for the suspension are to enable them to get clarifications on the following areas in order to continue their operations.
The manufacturers are seeking clearing letters from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for both manufacturers and their users. They are also seeking clearance on the meaning of extended producer/user responsibility and or effective manufacturer and user take back schemes for manufacturers and customers. The East African nation in March imposed a ban on the manufacture, use and importation of plastic bags for commercial and household packaging effective Aug. 28. The ban – the third attempt in a decade – has seen Kenya join other environmentally conscious nations in curbing the use of plastics. KAM, which has been opposed to the ban, claimed that more firms had closed their operations and that the shutdowns would cause 60,000 job losses. “We are talking of 60,000 direct jobs…then there are indirect jobs the traders and the people they employ, transporters and others along the value chain,” said KAM.
However, the government has since dismissed the 60,000 job losses figure as an “exaggeration.” According to KAM, some of the most important household products adversely affected include salt and maize flour.  “Distribution and supply of fertiliser will also be disrupted because the flat plastic liners used in their packaging are affected by the ban,” KAM said. The industrialists said Kenya stands to lose export revenue because there is currently uncertainty about the manufacture of plastic flat bags used for packaging of, flowers, fish, tea and EPZ export. “Manufacturers who manufacture for export are also affected and this will impact on export revenues,” it said. The manufacturers were given six months to clear their stock but they have argued that the time was not enough.
Meanwhile, NEMA, the environment watchdog has entered into an arrangement with supermarkets for the collection and recycling of plastic bags. Robert Orina, NEMA’s chief enforcement officer, said recyclers have been asked to collect the bags from supermarkets. “We have contracted recyclers and licensed them so the work can begin as soon as they declare the types of plastic bags they can handle. We ask individuals with plastic bags to take them to the nearest supermarket,” he said on Tuesday. NEMA said the ban on plastic bags does not affect flat bags used in industrial packaging. Director general Geoffrey Wahungu said on Friday that industries will be allowed to use the bags for primary packaging.