THE NEW PLASTIC ECONOMY

Enhance policies to drive up plastic recycling- KAM

While only nine per cent of plastic produced are recycled, manufacturers are looking to increase this to 60 per cent by 2030

In Summary

•The government needs to establish effectively managed statutory schemes that will encourage more people, organisations and non-governmental organisations to play a significant role in efficient waste management

•The 2019/20 budget statement proposed to exempt from VAT all services offered to plastic recycling plants and supply of machinery and equipment used in the construction of these plants

Plastic bottles assembled for recycling in Mombasa.photo Elkana Jacob
Plastic bottles assembled for recycling in Mombasa.photo Elkana Jacob

It should be made mandatory for firms producing plastic to be in an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Scheme to minimise on pollution.

Poor policies when coordinating efforts to minimise plastics pollution have slowed down efforts to amp recycling in the country.

While only nine per cent of plastic produced are recycled, manufacturers are looking to increase this to 60 per cent by 2030.

“Efforts to establish sustainable waste management mechanisms have been challenged by, among others, lack of adequate consumer awareness, poor policy frameworks and lack of structured Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes,” Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga said.

She added that the government needs to establish effectively managed statutory schemes that will encourage more people, organisations and non-governmental organisations to play a significant role in efficient waste management.

Speaking during the launch of the Plastic Waste Action Plan, the Kenya PET Recycling Company said although there had been an overall increase in plastics recycling in the country, there were still a number of blockades that would potentially pour water on the projected recycling target.

PETCO country programmes manager Joyce Waweru some of the major issues were the voluntary nature of EPRs which does not achieve its intended goal in the long term.

“The voluntary nature of the programme makes it very limited in what we can achieve,” she said.

Others including the 16 per cent VAT on EPR fees, inter-county fees imposed on plastic collectors and unpredictability of the country’s operating environment.

“All these boil down to the lack of regulations on the setting up, taxation and business activities in the EPRs and any other related businesses,” she said. “Businesses need to be guaranteed what the environment will look like in the next 5-10 years.”

The 2019/20 budget statement proposed to exempt from VAT all services offered to plastic recycling plants and supply of machinery and equipment used in the construction of these plants.

It also proposed to lower corporation tax for the first five years to 15 per cent for any investors operating a plastic recycling plant.

Although stakeholders believe this is a step in the right direction, the say a lot more needs to be done. 

Currently the industry generates about 20,000 tonnes of plastic every year, a number that has been increasing each year, especially in cities, as a result of increased urbanization.

Waweru said the not-for-profit organization has so far been able to collect 5,800 tonnes of plastic for recycling to date, with targets set at 7,300 tonnes by December 31.

This, she said, has been largely boosted by heightened efforts by plastic producing firms, an increase in the number of plastic collection points across the country as well as an increase in cash payouts for a kilogramme of used plastic bottles from Sh4-8 to Sh25 per kilo.

“We have paid out over Sh35 million for plastic waste, this year alone,” Waweru said.