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Kenyan Businesses must transition to circular economy

Written by
Dr Ayub Macharia

Sustainable development concept requires change in business models to embrace green and circular practices to reduce green house emissions, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Business and industries are called upon to change their business models to reduce costs, reduce risks and losses, provide value to their clients, avert environmental harm and ensure realization of country’s commitments towards CO2 reduction in Paris Agreement.

Circular economy has more opportunities for handling green house gas emissions through its three principles namely

  1. designing out waste and pollution,
  2. keeping materials in use for as long as possible, and
  3. regeneration of natural systems.

This entire process is responsible for generation of green jobs and revenue for people.

Transitioning to circular economy involves tapping into the capacities of all players including the private and public sector as well as communities.

Some of the changes needed by businesses to accelerate transition to green and circular economy includes

  1. Advancing the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) and green business growth through life cycle analysis and product designs to ensure zero waste.
  2. Adopt regenerative business models through use of renewable energy in business operations,
  3. Closing the material loops through adoption of industrial symbiosis where one industry wastes become resources for another industry.
  4. Adopting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – Kenya has developed a legal framework subjecting 30 items to EPR through 5 PROs.  
  5. Use of ICT to optimize operations and sales such as increased use of virtual space and automation of processes such as fleets, logistics, reduction in need for physical office space, online shops and enhanced use of courier delivery services among others.
  6. Generating holistic business operational data and using it for decision making
  7. Organizational restructuring to reflect green and circular economy.
  8. Development of enabling infrastructure to operationalize green and circular economy.
  9. Tracking progress towards addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity. In Kenya, the Climate Change Act (2016) calls upon businesses to be more accountable on green house gases.
  10. Self regulation through use of clean and green technologies, use less fossil fuels, capture carbon, deal with plastic pollution,
  11. Utilize tax incentives provided in the existing legislation
  12. Invest in appropriate alternative products and technologies
  13. Implement innovative measures and public awareness to promote behavioral change.
  14. Adopt circular economy standards and codes, labeling and certification.
  15. Exploit alternative financing including blended financing, green financing.

The government is challenged to develop appropriate policies and legislation to foster quick transition to circular economy. Kenya has put in place a policy and legislative framework for transitioning from linear to circular economy. Some of the policies supporting the circular economy transition includes

  1. Sustainable waste management policy (2021) and Bill
  2. Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations (2022)
  3. Climate Change Act (2016).

UNEA 5.2 meeting adopted a resolution advocating for adoption of circular economy practices including sustainable production and consumption. The Kenyan government is developing new legislation and revising old laws to embrace green and circular economy and businesses need to relook at their business models to embrace the new business paradigm.

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