Tuesdays discussion · Uncategorized

Does recycling happen in Nairobi?


We have all heard the mantra reduce, reuse and recycle yet why is there so much garbage everywhere. The Dandora dumpsite is still full, correction overflowing: yet we sometimes appear content to become a throwaway society. As a people we are very resourceful yet struggle to maximize on this potential gold mine.

There are things that we do recycle that may not even realize we as a nation recycle:

  • Some types of plastics into eco posts and pellets,
  • Glass bottles into more glass bottles, glass beads and works of art,
  • The rubber from the sole of slippers also known as Pata Pata into key chains, animal curios.
  • Tyres are made into durable slippers
  • Scrap metal is turned into art of broken down further and reintroduced into the market.
  • Newsprint is recycled back into paper
  • There is E-waste collection point outside of Nairobi.

Yet why is it that Nairobi like many other cities and towns continue to grapple with a garbage problem?

Why is it now becoming a common site to have garbage, broken toilets, and shards of broken tiles, used sanitary towels, overflowing bins?

On a domestic level, we are not encouraged to separate our refuse as most refuse collection companies will just collect all the garbage from one  garbage bin. That is if you are lucky enough to have a reliable company. Not everyone has such a luxury. One company sifa cleaning does advertise that they offer different bags for different types of garbage but remain unclear on what happens to the garbage later on in its life cycle. Would anyone happen to know?

Already the food consumed in Nairobi is believed to contain large amounts of chemicals, some even resorting to use raw sewage to irrigate “fresh produce”. Perish the thought.

The situation is so acute in some places that people would rather throw their used sanitary products and plastics down the sewer line than actually look for a better solution. Although this may help as a temporary measure instead of walking in an unsecure area to access toilet facilities it only compounds the issue. After a while the drains begin to block, as most sanitary products are not biodegradable neither are most of the plastics.
There was one product that had potential to address this issue, although details are rather sketchy as to why it failed to become a full-fledged product is the Jani pad. The claim is that it is made of water hyacinth, which is supposed to be biodegradable. Since the initial set up I have not found been able to locally source this product to see for myself.

Countries such as Sweden have already begun to recycle their waste by turning it into energy for the national grid. Granted there is some debate as to how green this initiative is, it is a better use of garbage than having it occupy a landfill.  Considering the amount of garbage generated on a daily average one wonders why each county doesn’t have one and why all these great ideas haven’t make it into law. The potential for job creation from such recycling plants is definite, as long as it is not coupled with environmental degradation.

If you are anything like my friend then plastic cutlery and styrofoam packaging are the bane of their existence, yet in Nairobi so many fast food places dish these out. Granted the styrofoam containers have reduced and have been replaced with non recyclable aluminium containers and non recyclable paper packaging. Yet solutions to plastic cutlery do exist in the form of edible utensils, they cost a bit more but I would love to do a review on them.






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