Editorials

Give the triple bins a try in solid waste management

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A heap of garbage at the Dandora Dumpsite in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The Sustainable Waste Management Bill, 2021 makes it compulsory to separate garbage into organic, dry and special waste ahead of collection by licensed garbage firms.
  • Green bins will be used to collect organic waste, while blue and yellow bins will be used for dry and special waste.

The legislative proposal to bring households and businesses to the centre of waste management is a step in the right direction.

If passed, it would see the individuals and entities that generate the bulk of the refuse take more responsibility for its disposal and make solid waste management more efficient in our towns and cities.

Banana peels, plastic bottles, cans, and paper trash are only a few examples of the many things thrown into waste bins that end up as mountains of pungent garbage in landfills. The heaps are an eyesore in most urban centres and a health hazard, especially for homeless people who sift through them.

The Sustainable Waste Management Bill, 2021 makes it compulsory to separate garbage into organic, dry and special waste ahead of collection by licensed garbage firms.

Green bins will be used to collect organic waste, while blue and yellow bins will be used for dry and special waste.

Households and businesses which fail to sort garbage in the right bins will risk a Sh20,000 fine or six months in jail.

The proposed penalties are likely to increase compliance with the county governments’ waste disposal and management regulations. But given the entrenched littering culture in most of the country’s urban areas, the triple bin model might face some resistance.

A significant number of people might have genuine difficulties understanding the technical procedures involved in sorting the garbage for recycling, disposal and compost.

Therefore, the authorities should consider complementing enforcement with public awareness and education campaigns to make residents appreciate the importance of proper waste disposal.

Private firms that will be licensed to collect the waste must not be allowed to prey on homes and businesses by charging exorbitantly for garbage collection as this may cause a relapse of the changes envisioned.

Manufacturers need to be encouraged to embrace packaging products in biodegradable materials. But the authorities must not relax enforcent either.

Irresponsible people are still likely to follow the line of least resistance. Regular inspections by enforcement officials and the setting up of whistleblowing hotlines will go a long way in ensuring compliance.