Who is Failing us in the Plastic Ban?
Who is Failing us in the plastic ban? The alternatives, the labeled single used plastic or us , the users? Kenya gained fame when they boldly baned the single used plastics. Setting a good example for the rest of the world. And some countries are already following a good step. But it is really happening on the grounds. In Kenya, we have a current phrase that is trending. Indicating that things are different on the ground.
We celebrated the plastic ban and hope for our planet was reborn in our souls. But things are not being as bright as we thought. We tripped and got trapped with non-woven carrier bags. And the National Environment Management Authority had to make another law to keep us away from those non-biodegradable bags.
Did we re-lapse due to insufficient knowledge or ignorance? What will help us go for the best alternatives, the bio-degradable bags/ packagings? The labeled single used plastics are slowly jamming up our environments again. Since once the plastic bags are labeled. Then they can be used for packaging. That was one of the deals in the plastic ban policy.
Unpacking the Plastic Ban Policy
What exactly is prohibited by this awesome policy, that made our country shine in the world of fighting plastic pollution? And I quote:
“Prohibition 5.1 No person shall manufacture, import, export, use or offer for sale plastic carrier bags.THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND CO-ORDINATION (PLASTICS BAGS CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT) REGULATIONS, 2018
5. 2 No person shall manufacture, import, export, use or offer for sale plastic flat bags.”
So far so good, this particular part is what makes me happy in the whole policy. Since the rest of the things in, mostly remains as written and not really done.
Especially this part:
Authorization to manufacture, import, or export plastic flat bags.THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND CO-ORDINATION (PLASTICS BAGS CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT) REGULATIONS, 2018
6.1 Not withstanding Regulation 5(2), the Authority may authorize the manufacture, import, export or use of plastic flat bags for industrial packaging.
We were happy, no more plastics. But here we see there’s still loophole to still have them in the market.
The deal here involves scrutiny by the authority before authorizing anything, a restoration fee and recycling plan are mandatory. By the involved parties. If the manufacturer met all the set conditions, there were some criteria for Exemption to be met.
Including:( In determining whether to authorize the use of plastic flat bags for industrial packaging, the Authority shall be guided by the following criteria) Whether the packaging is required for product preservation and public health concerns;
- Whether the packaging is required as a security measure;
- Whether the packaging is required for water and dust proofing.
- Whether the packaging is required to maintain product integrity while on transit.
- Whether the packaging constitutes over-packaging or not.
- Whether there is any other reasonably feasible nonplastic alternative packaging material
- Whether the packaging is in accordance with international rules and standards which are applicable in Kenya.
- Any other criteria that may be determined by the Authority
The part that eats my soul up is the labeling one:
Labeling 1. No manufacturer or importer shall sell or offer to sell plastic flat bags in Kenya unless the name and contacts of the manufacturer or importer are printed on the bag so that the manufacturer’s or importer’s identity is readily identifiable.
2. The Authority may on the application of the manufacturer or importer approve the use of any other identifiable mark in place of the contact details of the manufacturer or importer of the plastic flat bags.THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND CO-ORDINATION (PLASTICS BAGS CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT) REGULATIONS, 2018
I am sure you have seen whereby surveys have been done and ‘expert’ polluters get named. But apart from the shaming and social media anger. What more is done to these brands? Nothing much right? We continue to tag them when we get their packages lying carelessly on our environment. Their website containing beautifully written plans for recycling and projects ‘meant ‘ to do social good.
We have an animal that bits and helps you relieve the pain. By blowing some warm air at the bitten spot. So they cause pain and still try to help you get the pain away. But eventually, cause damage to their victim.
That’s exactly what we are doing to our planet. And we are not bothering to do much to amend our mistakes.
The Recycling Plan is not working out, let’s be real about it
This policy involves a well-written plan, that would help solve plastic pollution menace if followed religiously. From the recycling plan, collection points as well as the papers containing at least 30% of recycled content.
But at what point have our manufacturer adhered to this policy, at the labeling point.
It’s sad when common wananchi get to be answerable when caught using the single-use plastics, while the big fish continue to pollute our environment. It is not that I don’t want them to be answerable, but can the same apply to everyone. The law is supposed to cut both sides with no favors or being bent.
As we continue to do our score sheet after the plastic ban, we really need to have true to ourselves.
Our planet needs justice, from you and me. As you make the hard decisions in the big boardrooms and term environmental activists as time-wasters, get to learn what problems you are creating for all of us.
The laws are made to be followed and not taken as decoration.
As the public, we need to take the initiative and open our eyes. We are partly to blame because we continue to turn a blind eye to those who destroy our environment. And see ourselves as helpless. And if this is so, who do we think will save our planet?