Kenyans risk Sh20,000 fine as garbage sorting Bill gets Uhuru nod

Youths load waste into a county garbage truck. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Kenyans will soon pay up to Sh20,000 in fines if they do not sort the garbage from their homes into different categories before disposing.

This is if President Uhuru Kenyatta assents the Sustainable Waste Management Bill, 2021 that has now been passed by the two houses.

The green light from the Senate last week now puts Kenyans at risk of paying a fine of Sh20,000 or a jail term of not less than six months (or both) for not separating organic wastes from recyclable wastes when disposing trash in their households.

Speaking in a symposium organised by the Embassy of Japan on Tuesday, Dr Ayub Macharia, director of Environmental Education and Awareness said that the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy will be a game-changer for waste management in the country.

“The linear waste management model was a problem because we mixed all forms of waste making it hard to segregate them for recycling. It is also the reason for the many landfills popping up even in residential areas. The same landfills affect the climate since they produce greenhouse gases,” he said.

“People say that the circular economy will lead to job losses, in fact, we will need more people to capture the innovation that comes with this model,” explained.

The law, if enacted will allow waste pickers to be contracted and be recognised by the government among other measures such as avoidance of open dumpsites which are hazardous to people’s health.

County governments will be required to license and regulate private garbage collectors as stipulated in the bill.

However, Dr Macharia on Tuesday said that most counties are not ready for the circular economy because people may not comply with the garbage collection fee that will help in running the new model.

Ibrahim Otieno, an environmental expert working with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services said that Nairobi wished to adopt the Waste Management Act in 2015 but it could not materialise because there were no laws to back it at the time.

Richard Kainika, Secretary-General of the Kenya Association of Waste Recyclers said that in order to maximise value extraction from waste, consumers need to be educated on how to separate the garbage.

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