Predictability and consistency of Government policy is central in attracting and retaining investors. The Kenyan Constitution recognises this and the principle of adequate public consultation is entrenched as a basic principle in the Constitution. Local manufacturers were not extensively consulted on the decision to effect the ban on plastic bags. According to the Statutory Instruments Act, any regulation-making authorities should undertake appropriate consultation and impact assessment before issuing a policy directive – especially if the directive is likely to have direct or substantial effect on business.
Currently, we have over 176 plastic manufacturing companies in Kenya which directly employ 2.89% of all Kenyan employees and indirectly employ over 60,000 people. These jobs and livelihoods will be negatively affected by this ban. The manufacturing sector as a whole will also be negatively impacted as they utilise plastics for packaging products. Imported products packaged in plastics are not affected by the ban and this will create an uneven playing field for the sector.
Additionally, the 6 month period provided for the ban to take full effect is not adequate, as the companies cannot close down production and clear their stocks within this period. There is also a need to put in measures to avail alternatives to substitute the plastic bags, the country is not in a position to offer this alternative currently or in the next 6 months.
Local Manufacturers are committed to responsible business practices which are geared environmental conservation and have in this regard been paying excise duty towards waste management for years, which unfortunately has not been applied to address plastic waste.
Moreover, for this year’s budget the plastic sector has proposed that a fund to address plastic waste management be established and run through a Public-Private Partnership as a long-term and sustainable solution to this matter. This is because the challenge with plastics is not a production issue but a waste management and consumer behavior issue. A ban that intends to enforce a sudden change in consumer behavior will not succeed in the long run, as can be seen by countries that have had to reverse their decision on similar bans such as South Africa. We remain open to discuss the implementation of the waste management proposal already shared with the relevant Government agencies.
Kenya Association of Manufacturers is committed to environmental conservation through its Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation and is guided by the UN Global Compact principles – one of which is environmental responsibility – in all its operations.