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Traders adopt to ban on polythene bags

Two years since the ban of polythene packing bags by the government, traders in Kiambu County are gradually adjusting by finding alternative methods of packaging products.

However, some of the traders, especially sugarcane sellers continue to play cat and mouse game with enforcement officers from NEMA. However few of them have since complied, so that they concentrate on serving their customers without worrying.

Agnes Mutisya, a shopkeeper in Riabai told KNA that the plastic ban should have come earlier for the sake of the environment, which is the lifeline of the people.

Mutisya says that she is currently using khaki bags to pack rice, porridge flour and sugar for her customers, who appreciate the efforts she has put in place to cushion them from being arrested by NEMA officials.

She added that she does not factor in the cost of the paper in the price of goods, but compared to polythene bags, the khakis lower her profit margin. “We used to buy 1kg and 2kg size polythene bags with each pack containing 200 pieces at Sh40 and Sh70 respectively. The khaki bags on the other hand are sold in kilograms at Sh250 per kilo,” she said.

For cakes and mandazi, Mutisya utilizes serviettes which took some time for customers to adjust. “Newspapers also come in handy more than they used to before since I used them largely to wrap eggs and soap among other commodities,” she added.

On the other hand, vendors who deal with cooked cereals in Kirigiti area said that customers have gotten used to carrying tins. The exceptions however pay Sh5 for khaki like papers lined with plastic on the inside to protect the food from getting soaked. Others use non-woven packaging bags for the cereals and do not charge anything since the bags are cheap.

The non-woven packaging bags are used in market places to pack products such as sliced French beans, kales and cabbages.

Traders use the non-woven bags to sliced kales and cabbages for customers though they say that clients have already made it a norm to carry their own containers.

“Most of the people we pack out greens for are those who have come from work and don’t have tins,” said Mary Kariuki, a green grocery in Thaathini.

In market places, nets are used to pack a bunch of fruits and vegetables, while fruit vendors use also nets to pack their commodity and foil to wrap some of the fruits sold in pieces such as water melon and pineapples.

However, despite efforts by traders to support government in cleaning up the environment, polythene bags are still in use, as evidenced in roadside dumpsites.

The government banned use of polythene paper on March 31, 2016 and thereafter there has been concerted efforts by the line departments to ensure compliance.

By  Cecily Mburu

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