Zero Waste Fest in Mombasa Leads Fight Against Plastic Pollution

Nine youth-led green enterprises have spearheaded the inception of Mombasa County’s inaugural Zero Waste Festival, naming it the “Zero Waste Fest,” in commemorating the International Day of Zero Waste 2024, traditionally observed on March 30th.

The Zero Waste Fest is the culmination of a week-long digital campaign, termed #BeatPlasticPollution, meticulously crafted to combat the escalating plastic pollution crisis gripping Mombasa.

Dr. Godffrey Nato, a distinguished Faculty Lecturer at the Technical University of Mombasa, emphasized the pressing issue, as he revealed the crisis of waste in Mombasa. “Presently, Mombasa generates approximately 170 metric tons of plastic waste daily, with nearly one-third of this waste finding its way into the ocean annually, inflicting profound repercussions on marine ecosystems and human health,” he said.

zero waste fest
Attendees showcase their creative designs developed from waste and plastic materials

Dr. Nato commended the grassroots-driven initiative as a beacon of hope in confronting the waste pollution predicament within the county that has since grown to be a menace with impacts openly visible.

These green entrepreneurs form an integral part of the Mombasa Plastics Prize (MPP) Incubator program, an initiative propelled by Challenge Works and bolstered by USAID funding. The MPP Incubator, inaugurated in September 2023, is tailored to nurture youthful innovators and their battle-tested prototypes designed to combat marine plastic waste within Mombasa County’s informal settlements.

Building upon the success of the Mombasa Plastics Prize, this collaborative endeavor underscores a locally-driven commitment towards fostering a cleaner and more sustainable marine ecosystem in Mombasa’s informal settlements. It marks a transition from a competitive framework to a focus on comprehensive capacity building.

zero waste fest

Comprising nine developing start-ups, these enterprises currently benefit from support to formalize their operations, refine their concepts into sustainable business models, hone their skill sets, and prepare their operational prototypes for market deployment.

Beyond aiding early-stage start-ups in their journey towards formalization and sustainability, the MPP Incubator remains steadfast in its mission to inspire Mombasa County residents to reduce plastic waste while concurrently fostering the creation of environmentally friendly employment opportunities.

The Zero Waste Fest, hosted at the SwahiliPot Hub, drew the participation of county government officials, local dignitaries, environmental conservation advocates, and the broader community. The event featured an array of engaging activities, including a plastics fashion runway, roundtable discussions, networking sessions, and exhibitions, all aimed at underscoring the imperative of sustainable waste management practices.

Through concerted collaboration with the county government, local environmental conservation stakeholders, and multifaceted partnerships with organizations such as Close the Gap, Proportion Global, Swahilipot Hub, and Brand Spark PR, this initiative has made significant strides in fostering community engagement and mobilizing action to combat plastic pollution while concurrently amplifying awareness of locally-driven sustainable environmental protection initiatives.

The International Day of Zero Waste, observed annually on March 30th, embodies global endeavors toward sustainable waste management, aligning with the objectives outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

During this international observance, jointly facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), stakeholders from Member States, UN agencies, civil society, the private sector, academia, and youth are encouraged to partake in activities aimed at spotlighting zero-waste initiatives at various levels and their pivotal role in advancing sustainable development.

The #BeatPlasticPollution Social Media Campaign and #ZeroWasteFest, spearheaded by Mombasa, garnered recognition from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as one of the distinguished associated events held in Africa to commemorate the International Day of Zero Waste.

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