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Waste management key to our survival


Residents of Dandora, Nairobi Kenya rush to salvage waste materials near an excavator on February, 14 2022. [Gerald Anderson, Standard]

As cities get denser, waste management is a topic that cannot be ignored at any cost.

In Nairobi alone, it's approximated that 2400 tonnes of solid waste are produced every day, with most of the waste being dumped in open landfills.

The garbage on most occasions is also never segregated or recycled hence becoming a threat to the climate and the environment

In a breakfast meeting convened by Alliance for Science, where corporate heads were invited to share how companies, businesses, and retailers can engage in turning waste into wealth one thing stood out, it's time we manage our waste as individuals and organizations.

According to Dr Dennis Miskela Deputy Secretary General at the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), most hospitals are flooding with patients due to climate change and environmental degradation.

"When we don't manage waste properly, we eventually take it back into our bodies in different forms," he says.

"Due to poor disposal of waste, our water is full of metals and lead, leading to the outbreak of diseases such as cholera and an influx in noncommunicable diseases."

He further says that it is to blame for the country's prolonged drought that had led many investors to drill boreholes to fill the gap.

"You find an apartment in Nairobi has a borehole, no one analyses the content of the water, sometimes the water can mix with the sewer leading to hazardous outcomes."

In the same breath, Alliance for Science Director Dr. Sheila Ochugboju reiterated how Water is linked to a myriad of human diseases and conserving our environment and waste is the only way to ensure we have clean water for consumption.

"We also need to restore our water towers and regenerate them to ensure clean water for our communities," she says.

Wambui Mbarire, who heads the trade association for the retail sector says that the challenge is not the use of plastics but how we manage the waste out of it

"We have collaborated with retailers to come up with more sustainable carrier bags. Retailers charge for the bag so that you can feel the pinch and remember to carry your bag next time,"

Mbarire says retailers need to invest in waste segregation, especially dry waste, and wet waste, plastic from the biodegradable waste.

"The wet waste is generated from not being conscious as a consumer, like serving food you can't finish."

She further calls on estate owners to also segregate waste.

Waste segregation is the sorting and separation of different types of waste.

Segregating waste can improve the recycling process. For example, separating wet waste from dry waste is a simple way to help recycling companies. It will help to recycle non-biodegradable waste and treat biodegradable waste directly.

Corporate heads have also been urged to embed waste management sustainability in their organizations.

Mbarire also called on the government to fully implement the Sustainable Waste Management Act that will oversee the closure of open dumpsites, and formulate better policies for sustainable waste management.

The act also stipulates that public and private sector entities shall segregate non-hazardous waste into organic and non-organic fractions.

The segregated waste shall be placed in properly labeled and color-coded receptacles, bins, containers, and bags.

Another sustainable and effective approach to waste management would be adopting a circular economy model, which emphasizes waste reduction, reuse, and recycling.

This approach can significantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and mitigate its impact on climate change and public health.

Reducing the amount of waste, we produce and recycle has an impact on our environment.

Through proper waste management, greenhouses gas emitted during waste combustion and decomposition in landfills will reduce significantly,

As the country gears up in hosting the Waste is wealth conference, members of the public are being urged to single-use containers and utensils, recycle more, use reusable carrier bags, and compost their waste.

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