Kenya Association of Manufacturers Lobbies for a Circular Economy from Waste Management

Phyllis Wakiaga CEO KAM
Phyllis Wakiaga - CEO KAM

Last week, the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) held a virtual meetup with the local blogging community for an interactive session that was also broadcasted on YouTube and Facebook. The meet was held alongside the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and sought to highlight the expansion of the Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation (CEEC) to Centre for Green Growth and Climate Change (CGGCC).

The session was attended by KAM’s CEO Phyllis Wakiaga, the Director of Environmental Education and Awareness Dr. Ayub Macharia, MD SIIAfrica Akshay Shah, and later on, the PS for National Treasury Dr. Julius Muia.

The forum explored several aspects of waste collection, including cases of recycling and reusing waste materials, and how towns are vital players to waste management. The discussion was also in line with the mandate of KAM and NEMA, including the implementation of preventive measures, in which Kenyans and other local players are involved.

During the presentation, it was noted that waste legislation in Kenya exists, but is still far from perfect. Existing regulations have set waste management priorities and other targets that should be met. To this end, it is reported that NEMA has plans to establish a national waste management system that will be spread across counties should Parliament pass the Sustainable Waste Management Bill, 2019. NEMA says that the system will help it track waste management practices and deploy corrective measures based on collected data.

Another legislation that came into light is the Extended Producer Responsibility Proposal (2020) that will task manufacturers to reduce pollution and environmental degradation.

The meetup highlighted the goals of multiple government agencies that look forward to promoting the perspective of the state regarding the re-examination of waste legislation and contributing to the thought process of KAM’s services to move toward a circular economy. The aim here is to improve the use of raw materials, implement waste legislation and its possible revisions.

It is also worth noting that the aspect of a circular economy was explored extensively by the parties in attendance. For instance, to this date, most circular economy programs have been implemented by large corporations because they need high human and capital needs.

Kenya is likely overwhelmed by costs, cultural shifts, and operational change linked to revamping local waste management practices. Simply put, there is no clear starting point, although this can be addressed by launching pilot programs and building partnerships.

Lack of innovative ideas was also mentioned because it is clear that many companies struggle to look beyond waste management practices, and are likely focused on compliance instead of innovation. The issue can be overcome by thinking beyond environmental health and safety.

Finally, waste management (60% of Kenya’s wastes are organic) is a growing issue that is getting heightened attention from policymakers and consumers. Barriers to a transition from waste management to a circular economy exist – but the space has a lot of opportunities for all parties.