Importers, producers, and consumers of non-woven bags have been put on notice as a ban on non-woven bags takes effect starting today. If you get caught carrying around or dealing in the popular shopping bags, you will be put behind bars.
National Environment Management Authority(NEMA) boss Prof Geoffrey Wahungu said the government will not be merciful on the victims caught in a crackdown against the ‘‘very thin, poor quality non-reusable bags” as they risk being arrested, prosecuted and jailed.
“The penalties are equal to those of banned plastic bags. We are not going to tell them our strategies; that today we will raid Mombasa, Nairobi or Nakuru. To be clear, from today, non-woven bags are contraband and people will be arrested. We are just implementing a ban that came into effect in 2017; this is not a new order. Those selling and manufacturing the materials should cease or the law shall take its course,” Prof Wahungu cautioned the public.
Kenyans started using non-woven carrier bags when plastic bags were banned. But importers and producers spoiled the broth when they refused to seek advice from the authority and went on to fill the market with substandard non-woven bags.
“You should even have consulted the Kenya Bureau of Standards. You refused to heed our calls then later you start crying foul asking where Nema was when you started producing the non-woven carrier bags. We did not allow usage of such bags in Kenya,” Prof Wahungu maintained.
NEMA said it issued clearances of materials that are permitted in the country and non-woven bags was not among them, granting ample time and grace period to the manufacturers and importers of the materials to clear their stock before it started implementing the ban.
“We talked to the players and gave them a one-month notice but they asked for an extension. We gave them three months to comply,” he said.
Implementing of the ban was provoked by manufacturers whose greed to make profits flooded the market with poor quality, very thin and non-reusable bags contradicting NEMA’s principles.