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Collaborative efforts needed to combat marine plastic waste

Health Opinion

Beneath the scenic beauty of Kenya's beaches lies an increasingly pressing issue: the proliferation of marine plastic waste. The responsibility of tackling this widespread problem should be a national and county government initiative, given its direct impact on climate change and the local population’s well-being, particularly in informal settlements.

In Mombasa County, the issue of marine plastic waste is multifaceted, with several challenges at its core. Only 52 per cent of waste is collected by formal services, leaving almost half of it unattended and mismanaged. Shockingly, 20 per cent of this daily waste comprises plastic, notorious for its non-biodegradable nature and harmful environmental consequences.

Informal settlements in Mombasa County bear the brunt of this inadequate waste management. These settlements, often situated along the coast, become hotspots for plastic pollution due to their limited access to proper disposal systems and proximity to the sea. The result is plastic waste piling up, leaching toxins into the soil, and finding its way into the ocean, where it poses a severe threat to marine life.

The gravity of the marine plastic waste problem extends beyond the immediate environmental concern. Plastic waste contributes to climate change through its manufacturing process and the release of greenhouse gases. Furthermore, the carbon footprint of plastic is not limited to production; it continues to grow as plastic waste accumulates in our oceans.

National and county authorities should work hand in hand to develop and implement policies that promote comprehensive waste management systems. This approach includes improving waste collection services, implementing recycling programmes, and supporting the development of sustainable, eco-friendly packaging materials. The authorities should inspire and educate Mombasa County residents about reducing plastic waste. 

Individual responsibility also plays a significant role in reducing plastic waste. Residents of Mombasa County, particularly those living along the coast, should actively participate in the collective effort to reduce plastic usage. Simple changes in daily routines, such as opting for reusable bags and containers, can significantly reduce plastic waste.

The writer is a development communication specialist

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