‘Paper’ Ban

Plastic ban

Google says 100 billion people have lived on planet earth and currently we have above 7 billion people on earth. One wonders where did the 100 billion freeze to? Apart from myself and Google who else bothers about them anyway? Come on the seven billion plus, do they know that 100 billion were once here? People this world is not our permanent home it’s just like a conveyor belt. We are on a journey to finish. But today we are not talking about numbers and Google and people. We ate talking about the earth, the people, the people’s love for  plastics and the monsters they are. And most importantly if we should give plastics a lifeline of they better give us one.

It’s important that we start here. Back in the day I used to do shiaras with a friend of Asian origin. He’s a spoilt kid. The type that walks around with a pack of cigar in the back pocket  his sagging trouser and raises the middle finger to elders without a grin on face. His father is a bona-fide investor. He runs a state of the art press firm in the vast industrial area where my friend serves in charge of procurement and logistics. So I’d check in, ring their bell and that chap would emerge from the back door. “I brought you papers yoo” then he’d break into a rant in a monologue “These are not papers yoo. These is polythene. Paper is made from wood. Polythene is made from nylon” On that note please do me a big favor, go back and decide between the title and header which one fits the bill. Every one says government is banning paper! Hint; government is not banning paper. Well, even the makers of the kasuku brand of books say “great ideas start on paper.” Government is banning polythene bags because polythene is bad to the health of the nation.

Where did the rains start beating us? Digging deep in history, some guy by the name Wallace Carothers  discovered nylon more than 80 years ago through his laboratory tests. The media showed images of him. Newspapers run him on bold front page. People adored him. Manufacturers hosted him over cocktails and coffee and boring boardroom strategy sessions. The world crowned him genius. The world itself was still naive to the possibility that his celebrated invention was disaster in waiting several calendars to come. Unfortunately he killed himself before the effects would come home to roost. Find more about him and nylon here:

Let’s face it people love plastics. I mean our lives are so anchored on plastics. No I suppose  they are anchored on God, hope then plastics in that hierarchy.

Think GitheriMan. He rose to national prominence because some curious youth captured him enjoying his githeri delicacy in a plastic polythene as he waited to vote on queue in the concluded 2017 general elections. See if elections were held choose the Tuesday of tomorrow (29th August 2017) in place of the August Eighth date, that would be a day after the government officially bans plastic bags with an enormous price to pay for disobeying the ban. Our GitheriMan would thus be a guest of the state not media. 

On your normal day, you wake up to grab stuff from the shops. Stuff that are packed in plastic bags. And out of courtesy, the shop guy stuffs them in a portable hand held plastic bag to aid your ferrying. It’s plastic then plastic again! 

In the evening for instance and or rather, if the financial gods allow, you will hit at the grocers commonly referred to as ‘mama mboga’ (I wonder whether the same applies to men who offer similar services) she will chop those kales (because you are out to ‘push the week’) with the precision of an army sharp shooter crowned with a passion of a teenage in love. She will ask whether for that day you’ll need anything more in terms of fruits and vegetables. She will again stuff all that into a larger plastic bag and hand them over to you in exchange of a bill. Plastic again. 

Girlfriend will ask you pass through the supermarket and buy her something. You will be confused ‘small’ and ask what exactly do I buy? She will all of a sudden grow moody and ask “kwani you don’t know what other boyfriends but their girls!” and add more salt to the bleeding wound “what kind of man are you?” just like that she’ll hang up! You will drag into the supermarket at close of day with just a few notes to spend unwillingly. Your mind will not have entirely settled on what specifically she’d need or not need to that effect. You will curse “if wishes were horses, you would ride the whole shop home” That place will be a frenzy of activities with men who understand what their girlfriends want picking stuff off shelf with ease as girls and boys stuff them into plastic bags. You will take Laps of honor round and round that store like you came to buy the building not something for your ranting girl. You will as last resort end at the grocers because you want to pass the message that some fruit a day keeps the doctor at bay. Who needs doctors anyway when they can’t decipher what their girls want? Some girl will pack your apples still still wet with freezer moisture  into a transparent plastic bag. Come on the world should know that you under how to keep doctors at bay! 

The dirt chap (hehe this means that person who collects garbage) will every morning drop a sack size polythene bag at your front door hanging from the outside lever. You will stuff in it all the pints of dirt evident on that your crib (including peels from apples) and at night place them outside the house on verandah. On the morning you will find them gone! Such is how plastic bags have become a source of convenience to households far wide. Until the government decided to do something about it. For the very fast time before that famous “serikali saidia call to action”

Happened to transverse through some ghetto. Then this newly opened shop fully stocked with polythene bags caught my eyes. Then I thought, In about a few days plastic bags will be a thing of the past. Here there is a person who perhaps has no idea of that and is bought tons of them from some schemer who wanted to dispose their dead stock. Sadly that deadline is today and that’s how damn bad we are prepared for this!

Fast forward and the climate change talks have for a long time now ruled the airwaves. The world all over gathers to find solutions. Trump throws tantrums and walks out of those Paris talks claiming climate change is all but a fallacy. That gets Twitter in a frenzy. We move on. Back home that use, reuse, recycle campaign proved futile and  the government has invoked the long arm of the law moving fast  through its environmental Agency NEMA to ban use of categorized plastic bags effective today! And here is what should worry you!

Sh4m or jail term of four years if found with plastic bag after August 28 https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2001244427/sh4m-or-jail-term-of-four-years-if-found-with-plastic-bag-after-august-28

Here is what other media reported about that ban that’s effective today 



Invention is a thriller just as it is a killer. When that our nylon guy above invented polythene more than eight years back and despite himself dying guilty of his genius, the world crowned him genius. It celebrated him for working n inch towards efficiency and effectiveness. He created an industry so huge. Probably before him there were alternatives which were rendered obsolete with his invention. Fast forward today and that Industry this past of remote Kenya is earmarked for extinction slowly but sure. Exit plastic bags enter eco_friendly alternatives; handicrafts, arts, kiondos name them for we should not give plastic bags a lifeline in this age of global warming that’s seen erosion of the ozone layers lest it serves a blow to our lifeline as humanity. The big question world over is, what are the alternatives?

Perhaps you have a bird view glance of the specifics of that ban as outlined by NEMA:

The compliance and enforcement technical team deliberated on the interpretation of the plastic ban gazette notice 2356 of 28th February 2017 and wishes to state as follows;


1: Plastic carrier bags-

All bags in this category are banned. For clarity these are bags commonly known as “Juala” that are used as secondary packages for items in shops, markets etc. There is no contention in this category of banned plastic as there are NO EXEMPTIONS 

Category 2: Flat bags

Flat bags used for carrying items outside industrial setting e.g. groceries, garbage, are banned. However, in this category EXEMPTION is extended for bags used for industrial primary packaging where the product is direct contact with the plastic and is done at the source. The exemption is subject to:

Extended Producer/User Responsibility and/or effective Take Back SchemesLegibly and permanently labeled bags to indicate the name of the industry manufacturing the product, the end-user and physical addresses for ease of monitoring, traceability and therefore ease of enforcement intervention.Keeping of inventory/record with the aim of implementing the take back scheme.Category

 3: Flat bags used as Garbage and hazardous (e.g. medical waste, chemicals etc.) waste linersHazardous waste liners are exempted so long as they are legibly and permanently labeled (as indicated in 2 ii above) and color-coded and are incinerated together with the waste.Garbage Liners are also exempted on condition that they are clearly labeled (as indicated in 2 ii above) and have demonstrated effective and efficient Extended Producer/User Responsibility and/or effective Take Back Schemes. The liners will NOT be dumped together with the waste but will be emptied and reused or recycled by the licensed waste collector and transporter (the end user).Category 

4: Duty Free shop bags

The ban applies to the use, manufacture and importation of the banned plastics within Kenya. Since duty free shops at airports are considered to be outside the Kenyan territory, bags used at this point are not affected by the ban. However, any traveler coming into Kenya with duty free bags shall be required to leave the same at the entry points.


Following the above, the following guideline on the potential alternatives has been agreed with KEBs;

All bags made from non-plastic materials e.g. jute/sisal, Paper, cloth, PapyrusWoven polypropylene plastic bags (gunny bags)Non-woven polypropylene plastic bags (cloth-like bags)Laminated polypropylene bagsPolyolefin fibre bags100% biodegradable bags (starch and cassava bags)

The 2 & 3 options are subject to the development of the standard by KEBs whose process has already started. The standard development will be based on the following parameters:-

The specific material;Gauge;Tensile Strength and;Basting StrengthToxicity of the material and its safety for use (Heavy metals will also be tested among others).

By Compliance and Enforcement Technical Team
( http://www.nema.go.ke/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=102&Itemid=120)

Note: https://soopak.com/blog/5-advantages-eco-friendly-packaging/




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