Kenya urged to invest in circular economy

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SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 2: Recycled plastic bottles are seen at the San Francisco Recycling Center March 2, 2005 in San Francisco, California. Bottled water is the single largest growth area among all beverages, more than doubling over the last decade. Only about 12 percent of plastic bottles, mostly water, were recycled in 2003, according to industry consultant R.W. Beck, Inc. Since most bottled water is consumed away from home where recycling isn't an option, an estimated 40 million bottles a day go into the trash or become litter. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 2: Recycled plastic bottles are seen at the San Francisco Recycling Center March 2, 2005 in San Francisco, California. Bottled water is the single largest growth area among all beverages, more than doubling over the last decade. Only about 12 percent of plastic bottles, mostly water, were recycled in 2003, according to industry consultant R.W. Beck, Inc. Since most bottled water is consumed away from home where recycling isn't an option, an estimated 40 million bottles a day go into the trash or become litter. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Kenya should earmark adequate resources to support waste recycling in the cities and boost post-COVID-19 recovery through job creation for women and youths, executives said on Thursday.

Karin Boomsma, director of the Sustainable Inclusive Business Kenya, said that investments in the circular economy will boost Kenya’s green agenda while unleashing opportunities for vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19 disruptions.

“Sustainable waste management for cities will create new income sources for women and youth besides promoting environmental and human health,” Boomsma said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

She said that regulatory incentives combined with public awareness, training and investments in appropriate technologies are key to stimulate growth of the circular economy in Kenya.

“We must create robust value chains for different actors involved in collecting, refurbishing and reusing waste, ” said Boomsma, adding that informal waste collectors are key to sustainability of the circular economy in Kenya.

Kenya generates an estimated 22,000 tons of waste daily and Nairobi, the capital city, accounts for about 11 percent or 2,475 tons of solid waste that is dumped into the landfills on a daily basis.

Boomsma acknowledged the growing waste management crisis in large cities and small rural towns occasioned by changing consumer preferences, population growth, technical hiccups and weak enforcement of regulations.

“There is a need to advocate for a mindset and lifestyle shift among the urban communities in order to minimize the solid waste crisis that is a threat to the environment and public health,” said Boomsma.

“A transformational shift to more sustainable waste management models will boost the circular economy as the country accelerates post-pandemic recovery,” she added.

Richard Kainika, secretary-general of Kenya Association of Waste Recyclers, said the government and industry should invest in supportive infrastructure and capacity building to enhance participation of women and youth in the circular economy.

“Putting in place proper incentives for the unemployed youth that include training and access to capital, in addition to proper infrastructure and regulatory framework, is key to growth of the waste recycling industry,” said Kainika.

He said that a robust circular economy will boost the resilience of urban communities amid poverty, climatic shocks and disease outbreaks.

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