Polythene dealers get more time
March 14–The Kenyan manufacturing and industry lobby has been exerting itself in Kigali as once again the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) failed to agree on a blanket ban on the use of polythene materials across the region.
Kenya is the biggest producer and exporter in the East African Community (EAC) with about 40 firms involved in the business.
Instead the Bill, being pushed by Rwandan legislator, Patricia Hajabakiga, is going to be referred to further scrutiny, reviews and analysis as a middle ground is sought. The EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill, (2016) aims at providing a legal framework for the preservation of a clean and healthy environment through the prohibition of manufacturing, sale, importation and use of polythene materials.
This is a disappointment for Rwanda and Tanzania. The Tanzania government last year enacted a strict law similar to that of Rwanda and effective from January 2017, that now severely limits use of polythene materials.
The Kenyans prefer a levy rather than an outright ban which the Rwandan government imposed 15 years ago on its own country.
In recent years, the Ugandan trade and industry ministry has also taken a softer approach towards polythene and plastics after the emergence of several recycling enterprises. These firms would lose out badly if an EAC ban is announced before they could generate any returns on their initial investments.
There have been submissions from the East African Business Council, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the Uganda Manufacturers Association and other interested parties. However the huge expense associated with waste disposal continues to convince environmental campaigners that a ban is the best option.