PS Ng’eno Emphasizes Call for Circular Economy & Sustainable Waste Management

In an address at the third Kenya International Investment Conference (KIICO 2023) at a Nairobi hotel, Environment, and Climate Change PS Festus Ng’eno revealed that Kenya is seeking to adopt a circular economy as part of its sustainable waste management so as to create green jobs alongside a safe and clean environment.

The PS expressed regrets as he promised of rolling out a better solution as the country mainstreams circular economy to combat the over 90 percent of 8 million tonnes of waste generated annually being either organic or recyclable.

Expressing insights achieved that show Kenya’s interventions are rarely circular since the national approach was mainly linear without consideration of the types of waste to ensure waste management is more in a profound manner.

Further noted that the traditional linear model of industrial production coupled with the country’s low uptake of circularity has led to massive environmental pollution, hence advocacy for the full adoption of a circular economy as a sustainable fix for the worsening status.

“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 said.

Detailing the plans that are to be put in place for a circular economy possibility, the PS shared steps towards the uptake of a circular economy covering policy and legislative reforms as well as structural adjustments in the country’s production systems.

This is an emphasis on last year’s passage of the Sustainable Waste Management Act and the 2017 ban on single-use plastics. “Circular economy provides an opportunity to reverse this trend through reduction, reuse, and recycling. Enabling circular economy and environmentally sustainable use through extended producer responsibility, life-cycle assessment, reuse and recycling of the waste in Kenya is a very fundamental shift,” the PS said.

A significant role is bestowed in the Sustainable Waste Management Policy and Act (2022), which proposes a transition from a linear to a circular economy. The Policy and Act also include provisions for the development of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes.

“Consultations with the private sector and other stakeholders on the EPR regulations (2022) have 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.

Amongst the pursuit of sustainable waste management, the PS is also focused on ensuring that the country draws optimal economic and environmental value from its waste resources, as he champions climate change mitigation that’s way easier with a circular economy.

“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.

In addition, he opined on the need for 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.

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