Environmental watchdog wants to counter increasing incidents of clandestine manufacturing, importation, sale, and usage of flimsy, clear plastic flat bags.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is intensifying its campaign against environmental pollution, including targeting seedling traders and proposing hefty fines of up to Sh5 million for violators.
NEMA unveiled its crackdown initiative on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, with a specific focus on traders who continue to use plastic bags for selling seedlings. In 2017, NEMA had already introduced a fine of up to Sh4 million for those using plastic bags for commercial or household packaging.
Get exclusive access to the groundbreaking story of Ms. Faith Odhiambo’s historic presidency at LSK in our Latest Edition of Nairobi Law Monthly MagazineDownload Latest Edition Now For Ksh 150!
However, traders selling seedlings in plastic bags were granted a transition period to shift to more environmentally friendly packaging alternatives. NEMA clarified that only 100% biodegradable plastic bags would be permitted for seedlings.
“The transition to biodegradable (compostable) seedling planting bags is long overdue. Such bags must receive full approval and certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards, confirming compliance with both local and international standards,” announced NEMA at the end of the transition period.
The focus on seedling plastic bags is part of a larger initiative aimed at curbing plastic bag usage. NEMA expressed concern over the increasing incidents of clandestine manufacturing, importation, sale, and usage of flimsy, clear plastic flat bags.
According to Dr Ayub Macharia, Director of Compliance at NEMA, the responsibility for pollution is now being shifted to producers. In contrast to previous practices where the public bore the brunt of littering offenses, producers can now be held accountable for ensuring that their products and packaging do not harm the environment.
Macharia emphasized that the Sustainable Waste Management Act of 2022, enacted on July 6, 2022, is pivotal in placing the responsibility on producers. This legislation is designed to promote sustainable waste management, enhance public health, reduce pollution in air, land, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, and improve waste service delivery.
Within this legal framework, the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has been introduced. EPR extends the producer’s responsibility to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle, ensuring that producers bear the obligations associated with reducing pollution and environmental impacts caused by their products.
Macharia stated, “Every producer shall fulfill their extended producer responsibility obligations either individually or collectively through a compliance scheme, as outlined in Section 13(1) of the Act.” These regulations mark a significant step forward in environmental protection and pollution reduction efforts in Kenya.