Kenya mulls investments in eco-friendly carrier bags amid plastic ban

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-24 21:34:11|Editor: Yurou
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by Christine Lagat

NAIROBI, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's ministry of environment on Thursday launched a new policy and regulatory incentives to encourage production and use of eco-friendly packaging materials ahead of plastic ban that has been temporarily suspended by the courts.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment Judi Wakhungu said the use of biodegradable packaging materials as opposed to polythene carrier bags will create green jobs while promoting health of communities and ecosystems.

"The government will incentivize industries, women and youth groups to produce eco-friendly alternatives to plastic carrier bags that are an eye sore to the environment," Wakhungu said.

She spoke in Nairobi during an exhibition to showcase a range of eco-friendly packaging materials manufactured locally.

The cabinet secretary revealed that local manufacturers of bio-degradable packaging materials will be entitled to tax rebates as the government intensifies efforts to phase out use of plastic bags in the retail sector.

"My ministry will liaise with other state agencies to make it easier for women, youth and local innovators venture into production of alternative packaging materials," said Wakhungu.

"We are also encouraging technical institutions to contribute to this venture through research and development with an aim to bring down the cost of eco-friendly bags," she added

The government early this year announced a plastic ban that was supposed to be implemented on August 28 to help save fragile ecosystems from pollution.

The manufacturing lobby opposed the ban and filed a court case to stop its enactment citing loss of jobs and revenue to the government.

Judges on Thursday gave a reprieve to local manufacturers of plastic carrier bags by awarding them a six month grace period to discard stockpiles in the in their premises.

Wakhungu clarified the government was determined to phase out use of plastic carrier bags in retail chains despite court injunction.

"Our resolve to ban polythene bags is informed by scientific evidence on their negative impacts to our environment. We have laid down elaborate plans to enforce the plastic ban from supply point to the distributor and end users," said Wakhungu.

She revealed the national and county governments have agreed on a raft of measures to promote large scale production and use of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bags.