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Kenyan manufacturers set course for plastic waste management

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2020-10-15 17:22
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The Kenya Association of Manufacturers launched a strategic business plan on Oct 14 for the establishment of a Plastic Producer Responsibility Organization, as the sector moves from a linear to circular economy.

The organization will drive collective extended producer responsibility in the country, and extend the producer's responsibility to the post-consumer stage of a product's life cycle, while turning plastic waste into valuable resources.

Developed by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in partnership with Sustainable Inclusive Business, part of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance Foundation and the Netherlands embassy to Kenya, the business plan seeks to enable a circular economy for the environmentally sustainable use and recycling of plastics in Kenya.

The plan is in line with commitments made in the Kenya Plastic Action Plan, launched last year.

Mucai Kunyiha, chairman of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, said the local manufacturing sector is committed to the establishment of a circular economy, sustainably managing waste and conserving and restoring the environment.

"The plan's focus areas to accelerate a circular economy are to increase collection and recycling simultaneously through creating value and markets for recycled plastics, enhance industry awareness on sustainable sourcing and production and develop products designed for recyclability," he said.

"We are optimistic Kenya will achieve its targets of being a 'green hub' within the region by cementing its leadership in matters climate change and the green economy."

Ayub Macharia, the director of environmental education and awareness in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the formation of a Plastic Producer Responsibility Organization was informed by the amount of waste in the environment, creating a need to manage it by working with the private sector.

"Lack of an extended producer responsibility plan in the country led to low waste collection. This is attributed to inadequate infrastructure in the waste management value chain. The strategic business plan shall guide us in managing post-consumer plastic waste in the country, hence conserving our environment for future generations," he said.

Macharia reiterated the government's support towards environmental conservation, sustainability and the circular economy.

"We championed the development of the framework of cooperation between industry and government to monitor the progress of management of polyethylene terephthalate consumer waste. We also supported the launch of the Kenya Plastic Action Plan last year," he said.

Maarten Brouwer, the Netherlands ambassador to Kenya, said plastic waste management in the East African country is a daring move in the transition to a circular economy.

"We need to value the role of the private sector toward accelerating the circular economy in Kenya. To support these efforts, governments can give financial incentives, invest in research and development and encourage innovation," he said. "This shall encourage industries to be willing to learn, explore an experiment with various solutions that can be used to manage waste in the environment."

He said sustainability is everybody's goal, and needs a holistic approach.

"By making the collaborative spirit between government and private sector feasible, we shall secure the future of industry," Brouwer said. "The waste management challenges we face can be converted into new business opportunities by rethinking materials and redesigning products. This shall reduce operational and energy costs for the manufacturing sector, through sustainable production and consumption."

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