NEMA to close county markets using banned plastic bags

By , K24 Digital
On Fri, 1 Mar, 2024 12:33 | 3 mins read
NEMA officials inspecting open-air businesses.
NEMA officials inspecting open-air businesses. PHOTO/@NemaKenya/X

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has announced plans to close down county markets still allowing the use of banned single-use plastic bags.

In a statement on Friday, March 1, 2024, NEMA said it has instructed county market managers, to ensure that no one uses the banned bags within their markets.

"The use, manufacture and importation of single-use plastic bags was banned in 2017 and NEMA has been enforcing the ban since then. The Authority has been working with county market managers, where they have been asked to ensure that no one uses the banned bags within their markets but rather use eco-friendly/biodegradable bags," the statement read in part.

"However, NEMA has noted with concern the continued use of the illegal bags within various county markets and businesses licensed by counties. NEMA has already written to the Council of Governors to warn Counties that enforcement action will be taken against the use of banned plastic bags."

The environmental watchdog says allowing the use of the bags is akin to allowing the sale of illegal drugs such as bhang.

"It's ironic that market managers cannot allow the sale of banned items such as bhang and other drugs, but are condoning the use of banned plastic bags. NEMA will be taking enforcement action on market managers who condone the use of the banned bags and further close the markets where this crime is committed as provided for under Section 145 of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), 1999," NEMA added.

Section 145 (1) of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act states that "when an offence against this Act, is committed by a body corporate, the body corporate and every director or officer of the body corporate who had knowledge of the commission of the offence and who did not exercise due diligence, efficiency and economy to ensure compliance with this Act, shall be guilty of an offence".

Section 145 (3) states that a person shall be personally liable for an offence against the Act, whether committed by him on his own account or as an agent or servant of another person.

NEMA bans plastic bags

On February 28, 2017, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources through Gazette Notice No. 2334 banned the manufacture, importation and use of plastic bags used for both commercial and household packaging.

The Ban took effect on August 28 2017.

The Ban applies to carrier bags constructed with handles and with or without gussets and flat bags constructed without handles and with or without gussets.

Since the Ban came into force, NEMA has been issuing clearances for plastic (flat) bags used for primary industrial packaging.

Several traders have also been arrested over the years since NEMA effected the ban, with 100 forced to pay hefty fines after being found with the bags.

Early last month, NEMA arrested six people in Mlolongo market, Athi River for using banned plastic bags to sell their products.

The grocery traders were nabbed from their shops within the Mlolongo open-air market after being found in possession of the banned plastic bags that they were using to serve customers.

In October 2023, NEMA arrested two individuals for being in possession of prohibited plastic bags worth Kshh2.4 million.

The suspects were subsequently arraigned before the Makadara law courts to face charges, where they were fined Ksh100,000 each over the offences.

The use of the bags has been persistent, especially in less regulated markets where traders still prefer to use the outlawed bags.

This has resulted in more pollution to the environment since most of the plastic bags are not biodegradable.

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