Waste Segregation is a legal requirement in Kenya

One month after taking office, the governor of Nairobi City County, His Excellency John Sakaja, following public complaints, announced that the county government had collected 70,000 tonnes of waste 30-40 days after his administration took charge. In the same period, Nairobi City generated between 90,000-120,000 tonnes of waste. To his credit, the governor also announced the county would use green bonds to finance expansion and efficacy of waste management in the county to overcome the

Interestingly, four months earlier, July 9th, 2022 to be exact, Kenya’s immediate former president, Uhuru Kenyatta, signed into law the Sustainable Waste Management Act, an event that was overshadowed by the ongoing campaigns for the 2022 General Election at the time.

The Act is the magic wand that Governor Sakaja and his 46 fellow governors need to overcome the growing volumes of solid waste in urban centres all over Kenya.

The Act mainstreams core activities around coordination and oversight of waste management activities which include but are not limited to policy, financing, regulation/enforcement, and oversight of sustainable waste management practices in Kenya.
The Act creates inclusive/representative governance structures that draw on the public sector, private sector, civil society, and other representative stakeholders in the proposed waste management value chain especially with the creation of the National Waste Management Council (NWMC).

The NWMC will be represented by:
1. The public sector representatives from the Ministry of Environment & Forestry, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), The National Environment Complaints Committee, the Office of the Attorney General, the National Treasury, the Chair of the Environment Committee of the Council of Governors, and the Chair of the County Executive Committee (CECs) Members in charges of environment caucus.
2. The private sector representatives will be drawn from the Waste Management Service Providers, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Non-Governmental Organizations involved in sustainable waste management (nominated by the NGO Council), and the Waste Recycling Industry (nominated by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance).

Other groundbreaking directives and recommendations include;

  • Establishment of a Zero Waste Action Plan by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (reviewed every three years).
  • Integration of a zero waste management plan in the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), by the CEC for Environment, (reviewed every five years).
  • Establishment of the regulatory and oversight regime for Materials Recovery Facilities and Composting Plants.
  • An MRV (monitoring, reporting, and validation) framework for Zero Waste in Counties – Counties are required to provide annual reports on their zero waste activities and progress.
  • The Act zeroes in on waste segregation providing guidelines for color coding, segregation at source, and collection. Once fully operational, households that do not comply with waste segregation will be penalized.
  • Individual households come under the Act’s spotlight – once implemented, households that do not comply with waste segregation

The Act basically coalesces and mainstreams the sustainable waste management value chain and incentivizes its financing and job creation capability. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) reported that jobs in waste management doubled between 2000 and 2010 in the European Union and further projects that transitioning from linear to circular economies will create between 9million and 25 million jobs worldwide.
No formal study has been undertaken to provide concrete statistics on waste management jobs in Kenya, not even by the latest Quarterly Labour Force report by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
According to GSEP estimates derived from programs and activities in waste management, we project the Sustainable Waste Management Act will create between 40 – 150 jobs in each of Kenya’s 295 sub counties (a potential of almost 45,000 jobs), and this figure will scale with corresponding investments in sustainable waste management.

The Act also empowers Kenya’s waste management value chains to target and monetize emerging waste streams, such as MHM Waste, before they overwhelm existing waste management structures.