CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Bill transitioning Kenya into circular economy gets MPs nod

The bill will reduce air, land, fresh water, and marine pollution.

In Summary

•Once the President assents, the bill will promote sustainable waste management in the country; improve the health of all Kenyans by ensuring a clean and healthy environment.

•The Director, Environmental Education, and Awareness Unit in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr. Ayub Macharia, said once the bill has been assented to, segregation of waste will be mandatory.

GARBAGE: Garbage along Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi. Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI
GARBAGE: Garbage along Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi. Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

The eyesore associated with poor waste management in the country could soon be a thing of the past.

This is after the National Assembly and Senate passed a new bill seeking to transition the country into a circular economy.

The Senate passed the Sustainable Waste Management Bill 2021 last week and is now awaiting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s assent.

Earlier, the National Assembly gave green light to the new bill.

Once the President assents, the bill will promote sustainable waste management in the country; improve the health of all Kenyans by ensuring a clean and healthy environment.

It will also reduce air, land, fresh water, and marine pollution.

The Director, Environmental Education, and Awareness Unit in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr. Ayub Macharia, said once the bill has been assented to, segregation of waste will be mandatory.

“The law will become effective immediately,” Macharia said on Tuesday.

Macharia revealed that those who fail to segregate waste at the household level will part with a fine of Sh20,000.

Alternatively, they might be slapped with a term not exceeding six months in prison or both.

Macharia was speaking at the Japanese Embassy during a symposium on waste management.

Ambassador of Japan to Kenya Okaniwa Ken was present during the event that Japan shared the strides it has made in handling waste.

Macharia said material recovery sites will be constructed to help recover products that can be used and help reduce the amount of waste that would otherwise go to the dumpsites.

 “If one wants to move the waste from one place to another, they must use a vehicle licensed by the National Environment Management Authority,” Macharia said.

Macharia said that once assented to; the new law will reduce the amount of waste going into the dumpsite.

“All public and private sector entities shall segregate non-hazardous waste into organic and non-organic fractions. The segregated waste shall be placed in properly labelled and colour-coded receptacles, bins, containers, and bags,” part of the bill says.

The bill says a material recovery facility will be used for final sorting, segregation, composting, and recycling of waste generated or transported to the county and transport the residual waste to a long-term storage or disposal facility or landfill.

Macharia said there has been no emphasis on waste along the value chain as well as the value that can be derived from it.

The Director said they have been able to map all the value chains of wastes.

Ambassador Okaniwa said he will see how best to help the country transition to a circular economy.

"When I go back,  I will meet with my colleagues to see how best to help be either supporting with knowhow or by having a private company to work in Kenya," he said.

Macharia said the Sustainable Waste Management Bill, 2021, has tasked the devolved units to ensure they provide central collection centres for materials that can be recycled.

According to the bill, County governments will establish waste management infrastructure to promote source segregation, collection, reuse, and set up for materials recovery.

Under the circular model, waste will be segregated at the source before service providers move it to material recovery facilities where sorting, selling and treatment are done.

Five percent of the waste will be incinerated, 30 percent recycled and 60 percent turned into manure.

Only five percent will go to landfills.  

The government says the policy will create jobs along the waste management chain. 

According to the bill, every producer will bear extended producer responsibility obligations to reduce pollution and environmental impacts of the products they introduce into the Kenyan market and waste arising from them.

Each county will be compelled to enact sustainable waste management legislation within two years after the new law comes into operation.

Any person who contravenes the provisions of the new law will be liable to a fine of not less than two million shillings and not more than four million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years or to both.

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