The amount of plastic waste generated in Nairobi County is more than the city council is able to collect.
This is according to Titus Simiyu, County Director of Environment at National Environment Management Authority (Nema).
While it is impossible to get rid of the packaging industry – for food and drinks – Nema is currently championing biodegradable options that would easily and safely assimilate into the natural environment.
“We encourage anything biodegradable,” Simiyu says. “Plastics and other non-biodegradable packaging have proven to be unfriendly. As a general rule, anything organic is always welcome since it means we will have less litter at the end of the day.”
Plastic garbage remains an eyesore. Starting from Nairobi’s Dandora slums to Nakuru’s Kiamunyi, dump sites have not only attracted flies and emit stench, they have also created breeding grounds for disease causing pathogens. Plastic containers have also been blamed for pooling water which provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
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Despite the problems plastic presented, they remain a constant feature across Kenya’s dumpsites due to their popularity in packaging beverages and food. Yet there are other biodegrable packaging options such as using the Tetra Brik Aseptic (TBA) Edge.
This is a type of paperboard made from timber that is 85 per cent biodegradable.
Already, Tetra Pak has debuted such a package in Kenya and juice manufacturer Excel picked the new packaging to carry its latest juice brand, Fruitfull, in small packets of 250ml and 200ml.
“Nearly everything can be packaged in easy-to-carry containers for travel and movement. So, rather than focus on getting rid of packaging it is best to look at options that will maintain business as well as protect the environment,” Tetra Pak Kenya MD Hakam Soderholm said.
TBA Edge has been tested and found to be safe, hygienic and ideal for maintaining quality and protecting nutritional value of the product inside.
Seeing as a law to regulate manufacturing of new plastic packaging is currently before the Nairobi County assembly, perhaps use of this new material is the way to go in ridding the city of its plastics.