Tonnes of waste: Kenya seeks investors to recycle trash

Friday April 28 2023
Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya

Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya (centre) and her Danish counterpart Magnus Heunicke (right) admire clothing made from recycled fabric at the official opening of 2023 Copenhagen Loop Forum in Denmark. PHOTO | COURTESY


Kenya is inviting interested investors to recycle millions of tonnes of waste as it focuses on tapping the circular economy, with the initial target being the Scandinavian countries which have had a long running history of recycling and reduced wastage.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Soipan Tuya this week pitched the idea before a group of enthusiasts in Denmark.

She spoke at the Loop Forum in Copenhagen where she said Kenya will ease entry conditions for those with money to invest in recycling.

“Circular economy is a key priority for the government, not just because of its centrality in the fight against climate change by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions through waste management, but also because of its immense potential to transform the socioeconomic wellbeing of our communities through income generating activities," she said.

Kenya produces at least 8 million tonnes of waste annually, according to its environment ministry. Now the country is dealing with overstretched landfills and streets, choking up the environment instead of being used as raw material in production processes that generate jobs and revenue.

Read: E-waste becomes a health concern in East Africa


Tree planting programme

One way Kenya wants to restore its environment is through planting at least 15 billion more trees by 2030. But it is what to do with non-biodegradables that could be a headache.

Kenya launched a sustainable waste management policy in March, meant to adopt global best practices in waste management including a requirement for producers to invest in technologies and products that are reusable and recyclable, according to Ms Tuya.

Kenya has had its partial success though, including the relatively popular decision to ban single-use plastics of some specifications from 2017.

"In August 2017, Kenya made international headlines with the ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic carrier bags used for commercial and household packaging,” she told the forum on Thursday.

The ban on carrier bags was followed by another ban in 2019 on the use of single-use plastic bottles and material in protected areas, including national parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas.

Denmark's Loop Forum is Scandinavia's largest exhibition of circular economy technologies, products and innovations, and brings together participants from Europe and the rest of the world.