KENYA – American chemical company Dow will collect and recycle 30,000 tons of plastic packaging in the capital Nairobi.

The initiative will contribute to the development of the circular economy in this country, which recycles only 2,400 tons of plastic per month, according to the Kenyan authorities.

After Egypt, Guinea and Nigeria, U.S. packaging solutions provider Dow is continuing its cleanup journey in Kenya.

The operation envisaged since 2019 will finally be implemented through the waste recovery start-up Mr. Green Africa.

“Through a mobile app, consumers can sort and separate plastic waste at home, before scheduling its collection by Mr. Green Africa, which will then process it,” Dow says.

The initiative funded by Dow’s Business Impact Fund is part of its “Stop the Waste” program, which aims to collect, reuse and recycle one million metric tons of plastic worldwide by 2030.

Ultimately, Dow’s project in Kenya will establish sorting centers in counties that will allow reclaimers to bring in plastic waste for a fee, prior to recovery at dedicated facilities.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), supermarkets in Kenya distributed up to 100 million plastic bags in 2019 alone, just two years after the East African country banned the use, manufacture and import of plastic bags.

For Frederick Njehu, the head of Greenpeace in Nairobi, “the remaining 76% of unrecycled waste is a threat to marine life, rivers and soils.”

The initiative comes at a time when the city produces waste at a rate that outpaces its capacity to collect and dispose it of in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

In the city, proper waste management seems to be a luxury and only available to those that can pay for it.

However, there are considerable opportunities to be found in recycling and composting. Around 50% of the waste generated in Nairobi is organic, while only 15% of all plastic waste is recycled.

Public-private sector partnership is expected to influence greatly the amount of plastic waste collected and recycled.

In addition, communities should be empowered with adequate knowledge, skills, and equipment needed for the adoption of proactive approaches that call for reducing waste, such as using products for as long as possible and recycling them back into the economy.

In light of this, Dow has partnered with ChildFund, the Association of Waste Recyclers, Nairobi Metropolitan Services, schools, communities, formal and informal sector players, children, youth and women to implement community projects on waste management.

Through this initiative, youth and women, who were previously unemployed, have not only gained knowledge and skills in waste management but have also gained employment.

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