Research on Pesticide Plastic Container Management - Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AgroAK)

On February 28th, 2017, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MoE&NR), through Gazette Notice 2334, banned “the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging” to protect the environment as they are not biodegradable. An exception was however given to bags used to dispose of biomedical and hazardous waste.

Following the successful ban of plastic bags, Government now intends to impose a total ban on PET and HDPE (plastic) bottles since they are not biodegradable and are harmful to the environment, when poorly disposed.

Globally, the agrochemical industry relies on plastic bottles to carry pesticides in various pack sizes. This is currently the safest and most affordable material for the industry. Glass bottles pose a risk of breakage during handling, while the alternative latex material is expensive and not suitable for all pesticides, as some are more corrosive in nature. Plastic bottles, therefore, remain the most suitable pesticide carrier in the short and medium term, that ensures stability and safe handling of the pesticides. A total ban of these plastic bottles in Kenya will cripple the Kenyan industry, given international practice.

While AgroAK acknowledges the polluting nature of plastic bottles, it argues that it is possible to promote responsible disposal and recycling of bottles produced by the industry.

AgroAK is seeking to convince Government to exempt the agrochemicals industry from the ban. AgroAK wants to undertake a study to determine the current disposal methods in use and to develop sustainable and safer disposal solutions for the industry’s waste. The study will cover the entire supply chain and provide proposals for each actor along the supply chain.

This study will provide a basis for the industry to draw up a business concept for a sustainable takeback system and provide the justification to the Government (MoE&NR) to develop clear policies and regulations on the disposal of pesticide containers.

International packaging standards of pesticides do not provide alternative packaging for pesticide products. The imminent ban will, therefore, restrain the supply of pesticides to farmers for agricultural production as approximately fifty per cent of pesticide products are imported into the country.

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