NAIROBI, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said on Wednesday that it will outlaw the manufacture and import of plastic bags from August for damaging the environment.
Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said in a gazette notice that all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging will be banned from Aug. 28.
"It is notified to the public that the cabinet secretary for environment and natural resource has with effect from six months from the date of this notice (Feb 28) banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.
The ban will affect carrier which is constructed with handles and with or without gussets; and flat bag constructed without handles and with or without gussets
The ban is on bags up to 0.06 millimetres (60 microns) in thickness which winds often carry hundreds of kilometres from their source of origin.
The government has advised manufacturers of plastic bags in the East African nation to adopt new technologies of making biodegradable bags.
Non-biodegradable plastic bags have been cited as a top environmental nuisance across the region, but Kenya is adamant that a total ban will devastate its manufacturing base, with huge job losses expected. Nairobi alone handles 86,000 bags daily.
The country's first attempt in 2007 at cleaning up the country by banning the manufacture and import of bags of up to 0.03 millimetres (30 microns) did not succeed.
Of all five members of the East African Community -- Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda -- only Rwanda (since 2008) and Tanzania (in January) have so far successfully banned all plastic bags, and replaced them with paper bags.
In January, Tanzania followed Rwanda in effecting a total ban on plastic bags, which is also expected to hit Kenyan manufacturers hard, as the country has been a major export market.