Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has said that the challenge with plastic bags is not production but a waste management and behaviour as they reacted to the ban on Wednesday by the government.

Disposal of the bags is one of the major challenge the country faces, as many of the bags are thrown in garbage heaps and do not break down like organic materials do.

KAM also said in a statement that the directive was made without consulting them and will have a negative bearing on the economy

“A ban that intends to enforce a sudden change in consumer behaviour will not succeed in the long run, as can be seen by countries that have had to reverse their decision on similar bans such as South Africa.”

“We remain open to discuss the implementation of the waste management proposal already shared with the relevant Government agencies”

According the association, the 6-month period provided for the ban to take full effect is not adequate, as the companies cannot close down production and clear their stocks within this period.

Currently, we have over 176 plastic manufacturing companies in Kenya which directly employ 2.89% of all Kenyan employees and indirectly employ over 60,000 people.

“These jobs and livelihoods will be negatively affected by this ban. The manufacturing sector as a whole will also be negatively impacted as they utilise plastics for packaging products.”

Imported products packaged in plastics are not affected by the ban and this will create an uneven playing field for the sector.

There is also a need to put in measures to avail alternatives to substitute the plastic bags, the country is not in a position to offer this alternative currently or in the next 6 months.

Moreover, for this year’s budget the plastic sector has proposed that a fund to address plastic waste management be established and run through a Public-Private Partnership as a long-term and sustainable solution to this matter.

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act issued by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu to ban the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags in a Gazette Notice No. 2356 dated 28th February 2017.

The association said that Local Manufacturers were committed to responsible business practices which are geared towards environmental conservation.

“As KAM we are committed to environmental conservation through its Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation and is guided by the UN Global Compact principles – one of which is environmental responsibility – in all its operations” the association said.