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New collection centre to boost waste bottles recycling

 Sheila Roquitte, Deputy Mission Director at USAID talking to workers at the aggregation centre along Kangundo Road in Nairobi. [James Wanzala, Standard]

Recycling of waste plastic bottles has received a boost after a firm launched a third aggregation centre at the start of Kangundo Road off Outering Road in Nairobi.

The centre, which now has a bailing machine, follows another two in Namanga in Kajiado County and one at Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) in Athi River, Machakos County.

They will be collecting versatile and sophisticated plastic Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles for bailing and then transportation to the Athi River factory for recycling.

The centre's establishment is thanks to a co-funding grant by the United States Development Agency (USAID) and Prosper Africa’s USD400,000 (Sh61.4 billion) grant to T3 Kenya to establish such 12 centres across the country by the end of next year.

The funding, according to Sheila Roquitte, Deputy Mission Director at USAID, is part of the USD100 million (Sh15.3 billion) programme with such project with priority to reduce ocean plastics globally, create jobs and save the environment.

“The government, private sector and donors have all different roles to play in the plastics value chain. As development partners, we are just trying to help T3 stimulate the ability to be able to recycle plastics and strengthen the circular economy," said Ms Roquitte.

She added: “We hope that this funding, will help collect the plastics faster in large quantities since the bailing machine can compress the bottles for easy bailing and transportation.’’

She said the bailing machine will also help increase the incomes of those collecting bottles and create more jobs.

According to Gupi Kenth, chief executive officer and founder of T3 Kenya, the EPZA, which is also a factory does the recycling of bottles before they are made into raw material for use in the plastic industry to reduce reliance on petroleum and fossil fuels.

“Our target is to have 30 such aggregation centres across the country by 2026 with three main aims of combating plastic pollution, poverty and unemployment,” said Gupi.

She said they have realised that a lot of people burn plastics for warmth and they are here to change that mindset

The T3 company at Athi River is the first in the region to make food grade High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) bottles again from waste bottles.

The aggregation centres come ahead of the plans by the 47 counties to establish material recovery facilities as per the requirements of the Waste Management Act, 2022 that came into law in July last year.

Charles, the owner of the centre said they collect about 2 tonnes per day with 50 to 100 who collect the bottles and with the bailing machine, they look forward to more work.

“The bailing machine has been helping us to compress them and put them in bail and transportation becomes easier to Athi River and we are grateful for this free donation of the machine,” he said.

Kenya Association of Waste Recyclers chairman Richard Kainika complained of harassment of waste collectors by Nairobi Council askaris.

‘‘They manhandled the driver who had to run away. The Nairobi County Government should look into that,’’ said Kainika.

He said there is a huge employment potential in the waste recycling industry.

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