MCA tables motion to compel supermarket to provide customers with free eco-friendly packing bags.

Witeithie Ward MCA Julius Macharia Taki.

A Bill seeking to compel supermarkets and retail outlets to provide free eco-friendly shopping bags has been tabled in the Kiambu County Assembly.

According to the motion tabled by Witeithie Ward MCA Julius Macharia Taki, since the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources banned the use of plastic bags in the country, these retail outlets abdicated their role and responsibility to package customers’ shopping, rather forcing them to buy the bags or re-use old ones whenever they went for shopping.

“I am deeply concerned that the re-usage of old shopping bags puts residents at a risk of contracting diseases such as Listeria and Hepatitis E due to contamination especially when packing foodstuffs,” said the MCA while tabling of the Bill before the house.

Taki also noted that residents were also forced to mix various items with foodstuffs, some of which were poisonous to them. He added that this forced them to incur extra costs whenever they went for shopping as they had to buy more than one packaging bags.

“While fully recognising that the Kiambu County Health and Services Act 2014 advocates for the right to the highest attainable health standards for every resident, this Assembly therefore urges the County Government of Kiambu to engage with the management of supermarkets and retail outlets across the county to provide free eco-friendly shopping bags to all their clients in a bid to ease the burden of costs and protect them from possible disease contraction due to re-usage of old bags,” he concluded.

(Related story: DAY 1: How Thika coped with the ban on plastic bags.)

Solomon Kinuthia Wambui, a member of the county assembly Water, Environment and Natural Resources and the M.C.A Ndenderu Ward warned supermarkets that failure to comply with this act will lead them to be denied licences to operate in Kiambu County.

The residents we talked to fully supported this law and questioned the behaviour of supermarkets charging for packaging bags.

“Before they were providing plastic bags to their customers for free. What changed now? This is simply a scheme to fleece the already over-burdened mwananchi,” said

Ever since the ban on plastic bags in August last year, supermarkets and retail outlets switched to biodegradable alternatives but transferred the costs to their customers. The cheapest bag that is able to carry about three packets of 2-kilogramme flour went for Sh5.

Some supermarkets are also packing customers’ items in old cartons or wrapping them in old newspapers for customers buying one or two items. In some cases, customers buying items like water, sodas, yoghurt and small snacks opt to walk out of the supermarket with their items in hand.

(See also: This how you can take advantage of the plastic ban to make good money!)

Taking advantage of the opportunity presented to them by the ban, a battery of hawkers swamp the town streets and outside supermarkets to prey on stranded shoppers.

Residents have been complaining of the high cost of shopping due to the added expenses and have appealed to the authorities to intervene on their behalf.

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