Friday, 2 June 2017

Relief for Traders, Manufactures as Kenya Parliament Suspend Ban on Plastic

The National Assembly on Wednesday demanded the immediate suspension of a Gazette notice that banned the production, importation and use of plastic bags beginning September. Parliament’s Departmental Committee on Environment and Natural Resources said the decision to back a petition seeking suspension of the Gazette Notice No. 2356 of 2017 on the ban, use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags, “Did not comply with the statutory Instruments Act, 2013. Even if, the issuance of the Notice had complied with the relevant provisions of the statutory Instruments Act 2013, the timeline of six months given in the Notice for companies to cease operation was unreasonably short.” For traders, manufacturers and other users of plastics, the suspension is an opportunity for holistic waste management solutions. Findings from the committee noted that, “The cost value of the plastic manufacturing sector is in excess of Ksh 88 billion and the direct employments created by the plastic sector is over 2.89 percent of the Kenyan employees which is approximately 60,000 personnel nationwide and their annual turnover is over Ksh 100 billion.” Thus, “The ban imposed by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment does not resolve the problem identified by the experts or create a sustainable approach to addressing the problem.” Experts in the Global waste management outlook for 2015, a report by the United Nations Environment Program UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association stated that: “Inadequate waste Management has become a major public health, economic and environmental problem with 7-10 billion tonnes of urban waste produced each year and 3 billion people worldwide lacking access to controlled waste disposal facilities fuelled by a population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, the volume of waste are likely to even double in lower income African and Asian cities by 2013.” On February 28, the Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu published the legal notice announcing a ban on both domestic and commercial use of plastic bags from September this year. The committee argues that the notice is not in compliance with provisions of the Statutory Instruments Act, 2013, which requires parliamentary approval of any notices or regulations published by Cabinet secretaries. Further, it had noted that the ban had a direct, indirect and substantial effect on business. Despite this, no public consultations were held with stakeholders or an impact analysis developed the relevant Government agencies. Current statistics indicate the downward trajectory in the manufacturing sector over the last year in 2016. In addition, the country is suffering from widespread unemployment and there is need to protect employed workers. In 2016, the manufacturing sector recorded a real growth of 3.5 per cent compared to a revised growth of 3.6 per cent in 2015 attributed to reduced cost of production and increased volume output by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). 

Thus, “The proposed ban which stands to affect all the sectors of manufacturing will greatly affect the growth and inevitably the economic growth. Estimates confirm that there are 176 plastic manufacturing companies all-around Kenya and the value of the plastic sectors investment is over Ksh 105 billion,” observed the committee.

“The direct employment created by the plastic sector is over 2.89 percent of Kenyan Employees (approx. 60,000 employees). Indirect employment and dependents through retailers, wholesalers, recyclers, packers and outlets is over 1.2 million personnel nationwide,” it added.

Proper Waste Management practices

Economies around the world have resulted to creating waste markets to turn their waste into an economic resource and to enrich the livelihoods of many.

To ensure this is sustainable, parliament recommended that:  adequate consultations to be conducted and provisions of Statutory Act implemented and the revenue generated from the excise duty levied on plastic bag manufacturers should be ring fenced by the National Treasury to implement projects and programmes related to plastic waste control and management and to fund research and entrepreneurial initiatives geared towards production of alternatives to plastics.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM)  Waste Management Proposals In 2016-2017 proposes solutions to address polythene waste in line with global best practices.

For instance, they call for the inclusion of provisions to encourage use of bio-degradable products and recycling such as national fiscal incentives such as Green Levy Funds to address plastic waste management; tax incentives to promote manufacture and use of biodegradable packaging products; tax incentives for capital goods for recycling; tax rebates to industries promoting waste management; and imposition of penalties for littering in unlawful places to deter littering.

There is need to remove the existing Excise Duty (120/= Kg on Shopping bags) due to inefficiency to address plastic waste management and replaced with a waste management levy at one percent value of all raw materials which will be collected fund ensuring  that employment of opportunities are created and job losses are avoided and revenue is boosted.

Finally, the establishment of “The Waste Management Board Levy”, to be charged on all plastic at source (Point Of Entry) on CIF Value. The funds should be managed through a public private partnership by Government agencies that include, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, National Environmental Management Authority and National Treasury as well as private sector and non-governmental organizations.