CIRCULAR ECONOMY

State seeks to implement new waste law

Counties will have to enact regulations prescribing investment in sustainable waste management

In Summary

•Under the new law, 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.

Environment and Forestry PS Chris Kiptoo during a press briefing on the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi on Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Environment and Forestry PS Chris Kiptoo during a press briefing on the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi on Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

The government is engaging counties to transition the country into a circular economy.

This comes months after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Sustainable Waste Management Bill 2021 on July 6, 2022, effectively making it a law.

Environment PS Chris Kiptoo said the new law comes at a time when the global community is fighting a triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Human being is unkind to nature,” he said.

The PS said he has written to the National Environment Management Authority to get ready to roll out aspects within its mandate.

The upcoming elections could however complicate the rollout.

“We will see how far we will go within the next two months.”

The new law gives counties two years to develop their own legislation in consultation with the national government, the public and other parties.

Counties will have to enact regulations prescribing investment in sustainable waste management. This includes waste collection, separation, treatment, processing, recovery and disposal.

Each county will also establish a material recovery facility for final sorting, segregation, composting and recycling of waste. It will transport residual waste to a long-term storage or disposal facility or landfill.

Under the new law, 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.

Segregating waste makes sorting, recycling, reusing and reducing waste easier. Much less goes into landfills.

The PS said proper waste management structures will help the country fulfil the Paris Agreement, which Kenya signed on April 22, 2016.

The ratification of the agreement was approved by the Cabinet on October 13, 2016 and ratified on December 28, 2016 before it came into effect on January 27, 2017.

Under the Paris Agreement, parties must submit strategies on how they intend to curb greenhouse gas emissions, formally called Nationally Determined Contributions.

The NDCs are tools for implementation of the Paris Agreement and are legally binding.

Kenya submitted its updated NDC on December 28, 2020, committing to abate greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent by 2030.

While most GHGs are naturally occurring, human activities have also been leading to a problematic increase in the amount of GHG emitted and their concentration in the atmosphere.

Increased concentration can lead to adverse effects on climate.

Effects include increased frequency and intensity of flooding, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes.

Kiptoo said sustainable waste management is one of the sectors that the government intends to use to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“We also intend to use agriculture, energy, manufacturing, transport and forestry to curb emissions,” he said.

Kiptoo said a lot has been done to transition the country into renewable energy as well as in enhancing tree and forest cover.

Under the new plan, five per cent of the waste will be incinerated, 30 per cent recycled and 60 per cent turned into manure. Only five per cent will go to landfills. 

The new law says any person whose activities generate waste will collect, segregate, dispose of or arrange disposal of waste in accordance with the law.

The person or persons moving the segregated waste must be licensed by Nema.

Hazardous waste will be handled separately and managed according to the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, 1999 and other laws.

Producers of waste will also be held responsible.

“Every producer shall bear extended producer responsibility obligations to reduce pollution and environmental impacts of the products they introduce into the Kenyan market and waste arising therefrom,” the new law reads.

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