Environmental problems associated with tea factories in Kenya: A case study of Kebirigo coffee factory
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The aim of this study was to establish the environmental problems associated with the tea industry in Kenya. It used a single case study of Kebirigo Tea Factory in Nyamira district. To determine the specific problems the study focused on the production process so as to characterize the production and operational wastes generated, the energy consumption patterns, the technology being used and the level of compliance to environmental regulations and standards in the factory. 70 respondents from both the community and 8 section heads in the factory were used. The selection in the factory was done using stratified sampling technique of the factory departments. The selection around the community was done considering the households neighboring the factory. For primary data collection, the study mainly relied on questionnaires, key informants and field observations. Source of secondary data included working reports, library books, Internet and maps. The study found out that the underlying causes of environmental problems in the tea industry in Kenya are mainly the over utilization of primary resource base such as forest products and water, inadequate use of appropriate technologies, weak enforcement of environmental laws and insufficient support towards technology change. These have to be taken into account for proper environmental management in the tea industry and other sectors. The study also showed that tea waste during processing is minimal (0.02% of made tea) the only solid waste that can be managed is mainly household waste. Energy used in form of biomass is an important environmental issue since the factory has to source its wood fuel from within the community. Environmental incidents that are a nuisance to the community include; noise (40%), smoke that causes rusty roofs (21%) and oil spills (7%). 4% of the respondents complained about habitat destruction. Land degradation (27%) and effluent discharge to the rivers and low income returns each (1%), and were not major issues since currently the effluent treatment plant is not operation and hence the factory has not yet started discharging effluent to the river. This study has therefore demonstrated the important link between environmental management, technology upgrade and energy conservation.