Plastic bags are not the problem, consumer behaviour is, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has said in response to its ban by the government on Wednesday.
According to the association, the biggest problem the country faces over the plastic bag ‘menace’ is waste management and users’ behaviour.
The challenge the country faces is in the disposal of the bags, as many of the bags are thrown in garbage heaps and do not break down like organic materials do.
“A ban that intends to enforce a sudden change in consumer behaviour will not succeed in the long run, as seen by countries that have had to reverse their decision on similar bans such as South Africa,” said the association.
The manufacturers’ association also said the directive was made without consulting them and will have an adverse effect on the economy.
They said companies in the plastic industry currently employ about three per cent of all Kenyan employees in the country directly and about another 60,000 indirectly.
The ban that was announced by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof Judi Wakhungu on Wednesday in a Kenya Gazette announcement dated February 28.
The ban will take effect in six months’ time.
On social media, however, the move was met with applause by Kenyans on social media with many saying that it was about time that action was taken.
Yvonne Munguti posted: “Good stuff Waziri, now we need to get together and get rid of all the plastic waste and find a proper way to dispose them. The environment will be cleaner and we preserve the environment for our children.”
“I can’t congratulate you at all what do you think all those Kenyans working on those companies will do? Think a lot Madam,” David Mutune was concerned.
Some were doubtful about the implementation of the directive.
“I kept singing about it on this page…at last you have it done it. Yet I doubt if it will be implemented…the Asian Kiambu and Rift valley mafia are more powerful,” said Clifton Karani.
Others were concerned about alternatives bags to be used once the plastic bags are phased out.
Kennedy Obiewa stated: “What alternatives are you providing? If there are none in the next six months then this is an exercise in futility.”