#30DaysofGreen on Waste Management Policy in Kenya

On day 17 of the 2020 edition of #30DaysofGreen campaign, the Nairobi Hub of the Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) highlights the policies regarding waste management in Kenya.

Legal Framework on waste management

I. Maintaining a waste-free environment

The Constitution of Kenya provides for the right of every person to a clean and healthy environment.

The Waste Management Regulations 2006 (the “Regulations”) prohibit disposal of any waste on a public highway, street, road, recreational area or in any public place. Waste is required to be disposed in a designated waste receptacle. Hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste must be segregated.

Under the Environmental Management Coordination Act (EMCA), affluents from trade and industries must be discharged only into existing sewerage system & a license to discharge must be obtained.

II. Clean Production methods

The law requires that clean production methods be applied including eliminating the use of toxic raw materials; reducing toxic emissions and wastes; reclamation and recycling; and incorporating environmental concerns in the design and disposal of a product.

III. Waste treatment

The Regulations requires treatment of industrial waste and hazardous waste in a treatment facility before disposal into the environment

IV. Responsibility to re-use or recycle

The Regulations call for producers to enable the recovery and re-use of their products, where possible, and to reclaim and recycle them.

V. Polluter-pays principle

EMCA espouses the polluter pays principle which requires persons responsible for the environmental degradation to restore (at their costs) the degraded environment as far as practicable to its immediate condition prior to the damage.

EMCA and the Regulations are supplemented by county legislations on waste management for some of Kenya’s 47 counties.

Despite the robust legal framework, waste pollution remains a big challenge in Kenya particularly in urban and informal settlements.

Recommendations for reform

  • NEMA should ensure the laws on waste management are fully implemented;
  • Kenya should prescribe policies for adoption for sanitary landfill sites for proper solid waste management;
  • The county governments should develop solutions that curtail open waste dumping and promote waste segregation, recycling and incineration; and
  • County governments should invest in civic education of the public to reduce littering and other waste generating behaviors.

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