Plastic waste management in Kenya an evaluation of policies and regulations on plastic bags and plastic bottles waste in Nairobi
Ambuchi, David Ombisi
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Plastic waste issues have attracted widespread concern and attention III Kenya, particularly in the last five years, due to the widespread littering throughout the country. The rapid rate of urbanization throughout the world has led to the generation of increasing amounts of waste, including plastic waste and this in turn poses difficulties for disposal. The problem is more acute in developing countries such as Kenya. At present there is a large amount of plastic waste, particularly plastic bags and plastic bottles, which are seen littered all over in' Kenya. This has led to environmental degradation, especially in major cities and towns in the country. In this regard, a research study was carried out with particular reference to Nairobi as a case study and recommendations have been made that could contribute to the development of efficient policy approaches on plastic waste management and in particular as it regards the management of plastic bags and plastic bottles in Kenya. The study was limited to plastic waste management, with special emphasis on plastic bags and plastic bottles. Plastic bags and plastic bottles were chosen because they contribute extensively to littering, and pose a serious problem of disposal, especially in urban areas in Kenya. During the study it was discovered that few policies exist to address the acute problem of waste management, leave alone plastic waste, in the country. The strengths, weakness and missing links of the existing policies were discussed with various stakeholders and recommendations made. During the study, it became evident that waste management policies in Kenya have for a long time been unclear. This has been more so because of lack of clear guidelines on what constitutes waste and methodologies of collection, treatment and disposal of wastes. In the past, the Public Health Act and the Local Authorities by-laws have been used for addressing solid waste issues. The Public Health Act places a duty on all local authorities to provide solid waste management services. The Local Government Act gives power to local authorities to establish and maintain solid waste management services. The local authorities such as the Nairobi City Council (NCC) have enacted several by-laws through which they attempt to regulate the solid waste management activities. The only comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the management of the environment in Kenya is the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) of 1999. The legislation was formulated to help in managing the environment including addressing associated issues such as waste management. The Act states "no person shall discharge or dispose of any wastes, whether generated within or outside Kenya, in such a manner as to cause pollution to the environment or ill health to any person". However, detailed analysis of the Act has revealed that it has not been effective in dealing with the issues of plastic waste and its associated problems. The Act does not specifically address the issue related to plastic waste management. So the failure to incorporate a long-term solution to address the problem of plastic waste has been the key limitation of existing policies. As a result it has not been possible to address the issue of the littering of plastic bags and plastic bottles and as such there is no long-term solution to the problem. Based on the study, a number of policy recommendations have been made that could assist decision-makers in their efforts to develop a comprehensive plan of action for plastic waste management in Kenya.
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies,University of Nairobi
Master of Arts in Environmental Planning and Management