Mombasa startups win Sh7.2m for innovative plastic solutions

Kenya banned the use of plastic carrier bags in 2017

In Summary
  • The Awards and Celebration event precedes the UN’s 50th World Environment Day, celebrated annually on June 5.
  • They are meant to inspire and up-skill young leaders, especially women, aged 18-25
Plastic bottles on a beach.
POLLUTANTS: Plastic bottles on a beach.
Image: FILE

Three startups in Mombasa County have been awarded $50,000 (Sh7.2 million) for their unique innovations designed to curb plastic pollution in the coastal region. 

Team Twende Green Ecocycle, Oceania Pacesetter and Team Eco-Redemptors received Sh3.5 million, Sh2.5  million and Sh1.2 million respectively for having the most effective solutions to tackle Mombasa’s marine plastics problem. 

The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards and Celebration by Challenge Works was the culmination of a six-month initiative funded by USAID and Global Affairs Canada. 

The awards sought to inspire and up-skill young leaders, especially women, aged 18-25, to develop creative interventions that encourage individuals and communities in Mombasa to address marine plastic pollution in informal settlements. 

"I commend Challenge Works for its innovative design of prizes that involve not only the youth but the entire ecosystem in solving the County’s most pressing problems,'' Kenneth Amanbai, Sports and Culture CEC at Mombasa County said. 

He added that such innovations were a step forward in terms of leading the country towards embracing innovative solutions towards Sustainable Development Goal 11: making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

At the national level, the State Department of Environment and Climate Change has invested heavily in both policies and law enforcement to win the fight against plastic pollution. 

In addition to banning the manufacturing, retailing, distribution and importation of plastic carriers and flat bags for commercial or household use in 2017, the Ministry also prohibited their use in protected areas in 2019. 

During the ceremony, National Environmental Management Association's  David Ong'are said that plastics are the largest, most harmful and most persistent form of waste accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste.

“Mismanaged waste aggravates the triple climate change crisis; nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution,” he said.

He said that the Ministry of Environment continues to invest in driving the country’s transition to a green growth and circular economy, which means focusing efforts on recycling, reusing, and reducing plastic waste. 

Two such efforts are the Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (2016-2030) and The Sustainable Waste Management Act 2022. 

“With these investments, Kenya has strengthened its international reputation as a good steward of the environment. We are excited to see Mombasa County upholding these commitments against marine plastics mismanagement," he said. 

The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards was built upon the Afri-Plastics Challenge, a continent-wide plastics innovation challenge worth over Sh700 million, which saw five Kenyan startups out of the total nine startups scoop over Sh340 million.

The Mombasa Plastics Prize is a timely initiative aligned with global efforts to find solutions to plastic pollution. 

The Awards and Celebration event precedes the UN’s 50th World Environment Day, celebrated annually on June 5. 

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