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Nairobi shoppers to pay for plastic bags if Kidero approves Bill

Nairobi residents will start paying for plastic bags they use to carry shopping goods if Governor Evans Kidero signs into law a new Bill approved by the County Assembly.

The Nairobi County Plastic Control Bill 2016 says the county’s Environment department will set the price for the bags based on quality and size.

The fee is designed to encourage re-use of the bags and reduce littering.

It is also intended to encourage consumers to use alternative modes of carrying commodities in the fight against pollution.

“No retailer shall make available to consumers any plastic bags free of charge,” the Bill sponsored by Umoja I Ward representative Njoroge Maina states.

RETAIL CHAIN

The Bill will apply to the entire retail chain including supermarkets, large stores, small corner shops and grocery stores.

The inclusion of corner shops and grocery stores creates an accounting nightmare since most of them do not offer receipts. Retailers in breach of the law risk a jail term not exceeding one year or a maximum fine of Sh3 million or both.

“The main object of this Bill is to outline legislative measures for controlling the manufacture, usage and disposal of plastic carry bags… so as to conserve, restore and maintain a clean environment and control pollution within the precincts of Nairobi City County,” Mr Maina says in the Bill’s memorandum.

Introduction of the fee will further choke households already struggling to make ends meet.

The sale of plastic bags will offer retailers an extra revenue stream. An earlier version of the Bill had required them to remit the proceeds to City Hall for use in environmental management but the current Bill has struck out that provision.

SIZE AND THICKNESS

The earlier Bill had also set a minimum size and thickness for the plastic bags at 30 microns but the current Bill has directed that manufacturers need to follow standards set by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Introduction of the fee is likely to affect revenues of plastic manufacturers with evidence from other countries showing a large decline in use.

In England, the government started charging 5p (Sh6.4) per bag in October last year and provisional figures by the BBC based on six months’ data show that the use of plastic bags is projected to fall by 83 per cent this year.

The BBC says that in 2014, a total of 7.64 billion bags were used but in the first six months of this year the figure dropped to 640 million bags.

Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland had earlier introduced fees on the bags and reported drops of 76, 71 and 80 per cent respectively in plastic bags use.