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End of waste littering in Kenya

Written by
Dr Ayub Macharia
  1. Our streets and pathways do not miss a few to many pieces of litter in form of packaging or non-packaging items discarded after end of use. Some of the reasons for littering is because the items are considered to be of little value. The people’s attitude while littering is that the County government will clean it up and dispose it appropriately.
  2. Unfortunately, Counties have inadequate infrastructure to manage litter. Some of the products imported into the country comprise of complex molecules and our local technology is still lagging behind. The country does not have the capacity to process all types of products and packaging manufactured or imported in the Country. Hence if the status quo is maintained, littering in our environment will continue.
  3. However, this scenario is destined to change. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has finalized the development of the Sustainable Waste Management Policy and Bill that was approved by the Cabinet on 25th September 2021. The Bill was tabled in Parliament on 1st September 2021 and will be debated soon. In addition, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations 2021 have also been finalized after comprehensive consultative process.
  4. The main goal of the Sustainable Waste Management Policy and Bill is to transition waste management from linear to circular economy whereby maximum value is extracted for job and wealth creation. The citizens are compelled to install three bins at home or commercial facilities for disposal of segregated wet organic, dry inorganic waste and special waste fractions.
  5. The wet organic waste includes vegetable peals, fruit peels, rotten vegetables, rotten fruits, left over food, leaves from backyard plants among others. Dry organic waste comprise of paper, plastics, electronics waste, glass, etc. Special waste comprise of nose masks, diapers among others.
  6. The waste service providers will no longer carry mixed waste to dumpsites. Instead, the waste will be taken to a composting facility (for wet organic waste) and to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) (for dry inorganic waste). The composting and MRF sites are expected to create employment opportunities for many people based on the volumes to be processed.
  7. Material Recovery facilities shall be established in all counties, preferably close to the source of waste generation. These waste collection centres shall be established with the help of county government and assigned to organised groups to manage them. All waste collected shall first go to MRFs and only the sorted residual materials should then go to a waste-to-energy or landfill facility.
  8. These organized groups will be engaged in further sorting of waste at the material recovery facility and selling the recovered materials to recyclers and other users. This will be a source of employment and income generation for the youth and other vulnerable groups. Only 5% of the waste will not be useful and this will be transported by the County Governments to the sanitary landfills.
  9. The EPR regulations intends to operationalize the Polluter Pays Principle and thus giving effect to section 3 (1) of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999 as revised in 2015 which provides that every Kenyan is entitled to a clean and healthy environment in accordance to the constitution and other relevant laws.
  10. The EPR regulations subjects about 30 products to EPR obligations. The products subject to EPR regulations are grouped into 5 categories and includes the following
  • 1. Packaging for non-hazardous products (plastics, papers, aluminium, composite, glass and carton).
  • 2. Hazardous products’ packaging (Industrial chemicals, oil and lubricants, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, veterinary, cosmetics, paints and solvents) and agricultural films
  • 3. Electrical and Electronic Equipment, Mercury Auto Switches, thermostats, Battery and Accumulators
  • 4. End of life motor vehicles, automobiles, aircrafts, locomotives
  • 5. Non packaging items (Plastics, glass, paper, cardboard), Furniture (except wooden, metallic), Rubber and Tyres, artificial hair, diapers, sanitary towels.

To enhance waste collection, producers (manufacturers and traders) will be expected to join extended producer responsibility schemes. The items under these schemes will have a standard labelling that can be identified by reverse vending machines. The producers shall establish Producer Responsibility Organizations and put in place mechanisms, structures as well as pay mandatory fees to manage their post consumer waste. This implies that there will be additional funds available to facilitate waste management.

All existing dumpsites shall be closed gradually and decommissioned. This signifies an end of the era of open dumpsites in Kenya. Counties that have been struggling with public resistance while establishing dumpsites will now relax as they only require small pieces of land to develop a sanitary landfill. Dumping of organic, recyclable, electronic, end of life vehicles and hazardous waste at dumpsites and landfills is prohibited.

References

Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) 2021 National Sustainable Waste Management Policy.

Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) 2021 Sustainable Waste Management Bill.

Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) 2021 Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations.

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