Nairobi — Environment and Climate Change Principal Secretary Festus Ng’eno says Kenya was accelerating the adoption of circular economy as part of its sustainable waste management so as to create green jobs alongside a safe and clean environment.
Speaking on Tuesday evening when he addressed the third Kenya International Investment Conference (KIICO 2023) at a Nairobi hotel, Ng’eno regretted that the country had not fully mainstreamed circular economy despite over 90 percent of the 8 million tonnes of waste generated annually being either organic or recyclable.
“Kenya’s interventions are informed by the realization that we are not circular. In areas such as waste management, our national approach has been linear whereby all waste is mixed together and destined for dumpsites.
“Studies show that what is dumped is 60% organic, 30% recyclables and 10% others. While this is disappointing, it implies that there exists a huge space for circularity and sustainable consumption and production to bring rapid and extensive gains,” PS Ng’eno told the international audience.
Ng’eno noted that Kenya’s traditional linear model of industrial production coupled with the country’s low uptake of circularity had led to massive environmental pollution, and advocated for the full adoption of circular economy as a sustainable fix for the sorry state of affairs.
“Circular economy provides an opportunity to reverse this trend through reduction, re-use and recycling. Enabling circular economy and environmentally sustainable use through extended producer responsibility, life-cycle assessment, reuse and recycling of waste in Kenya is a very fundamental shift,” the PS said.
Ng’eno spoke in great detail on the steps Kenya was taking towards the full uptake of circular economy covering policy and legislative reforms as well as structural adjustments in the country’s production systems including last year’s passage of the Sustainable Waste Management Act and the 2017 ban on single-use plastics.
“Sustainable Waste Management Policy and Act (2022), which proposes a transition from linear to circular economy. The Policy and Act also includes provisions for the development of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes.
“Consultations with the private sector and other stakeholders on the EPR regulations (2022) has been finalized and the regulation will be enacted soon. The regulations call upon producers to ensure their products and packaging are reusable and recyclable as well as embrace being ecological life cycle friendly,” the PS said.
Other reforms cited by Eng Ng’eno include the 2020 ban on the use of single-use plastics in parks and nature areas; an ongoing baseline study on waste water management; curricula on sustainable waste management; and a green growth and circular economy toolkit developed by his state department.
Alongside ensuring that the country draws optimal economic and environmental value from its waste resources, Eng Ng’eno said Kenya was pursuing circular economy and sustainable waste management as part of its international obligations on climate change mitigation.
“Circular economy provides for enhanced value extraction from resources and can turn economies around by ensuring optimal resource use with minimal demand for virgin raw materials and reduced pollution.
“This ideal is the basis of the Paris Agreement climate change aspirations towards a below 1.5 degree temperature moderation. Kenya has already domesticated these aspirations in the updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted to the UNFCCC in December, 2020,” Eng Ng’eno noted.
At the same time, PS Ng’eno rallied African countries to develop common positions on environmental protection, calling for the inclusion of an environment and climate change provision in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“We should be intentional to cooperate, build capacity and discuss opportunities to strengthen our respective commitments in this area, and to consider international agreements necessary to protect the environment and provide for a pillar on Environment and Climate Change in AfCFTA,” PS Ng’eno concluded.