If your Kenyan business generates waste (what company doesn’t?), you now have a new law to prepare for in your waste management process.
The Sustainable Waste Management Bill, 2021, which took effect on Thursday, July 7, 2022, requires businesses and residents to sort and manage their waste. This Act, developed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, was passed into legislation with amendments by the Kenyan National Assembly on February 23, 2022, and passed by the Senate on June 16, 2022, without amendments. The Act was a measure to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. The Bill adds a new layer of complexity for managing waste in the thousands of businesses across the state.
“Extended producer responsibility measures” means measures that extend to a person’s or firm’s financial or physical responsibility over a product up to the consumer stage of the product, including:
- Waste minimization programs;
- Deposit-refund and take-back schemes;
- Financial arrangements for any fund established for the promotion of reduction, reuse, recycling, or recovery of waste;
- Awareness programs to inform the public on the impacts of waste emanating from the product on health and the environment; and
- Any other measures to be undertaken for the reduction of the potential impact of the product on health and the environment.
It’s a lot to digest for businesses and the communities that must implement processes to facilitate this change. That’s why the Bill establishes the Waste Management Council.
The Council shall:
- Provide support for sustainable waste management;
- Be the national knowledge center on sustainable waste management;
- Coordinate Kenya’s international obligations on waste;
- Develop a national strategy for the reduction of land-based pollution to the marine environment;
- Provide technical assistance to county governments.
The Bill mandates the National Environment Authority (NEMA) to develop standards on sustainable waste management and enforce waste management legislation with county governments, among other duties outlined in the Bill.
NEMA is mandated to develop an action plan to implement the National Waste Management Strategy.
The Bill mandates County Governments to, among others, implement the devolved function of waste management and ensure waste disposal is done within the county’s boundaries.
They shall also provide central collection centers for recyclable materials and mainstream waste management in county planning and budgeting.
Important note: As a business, it’s essential to start planning for this new change in waste laws. Any products and packaging you currently generate that may cause negative impacts on the environment shall be returned to the seller after use. These products shall be marked with a special label.
The Cabinet Secretary shall prescribe regulations to guide further on these take-back schemes. So be on the lookout.
Suppose you are in the business of producing, converting, or importing products and packaging. In that case, you will bear extended producer responsibility over the products or packaging to reduce their environmental impact.
This includes the design of environmentally friendly and recyclable products and packaging, physical collection and management of waste, and financial contributions to a collective scheme.
As a producer, importer, or distributor, you may establish a collective producer responsibility organization. The Bill states that there shall be one collective producer responsibility organization for a specific waste stream.
As a private entity, the Bill requires you to prepare a three-year waste management plan and submit an annual monitoring report to the Authority. It shall be an offense for a private entity to fail to prepare and submit the information. The Bill lists the measures to be taken by a private sector entity to manage waste management.
The Bill states that the Cabinet Secretary shall prescribe incentives and make regulations for the preferential use of recovered or recycled materials over newly manufactured materials with no recycled content.
Monitoring and Compliance
The Bill provides that NEMA shall monitor and review the performance of private entities and County Governments in carrying out their functions. It is also mandated to develop regulations for the procedure for reporting on compliance by private entities.
The Bill provides that the National Environment Complaints Committee shall establish a complaint and redress mechanism. NEMA is mandated to establish a partnership program with waste management industries and sectors for continuous education on waste to encourage compliance.
The Bill states that the counties shall develop a framework for inter-county cooperation on waste management. The Cabinet Secretary shall develop regulations to govern the same.
The new law has enormous legal ramifications for businesses. Not following waste management procedures can lead to costly mistakes and a public relations nightmare.
The Bill provides that a person who fails to manage waste shall be required to clean up and restore the site to its natural state.
The Bill provides for the development of a curriculum on sustainable waste management. Schedule – Provides for the provisions on Public Consultation.
How a sustainability consulting company can help
One of the first actions a company should take with implementing this new law is to evaluate its current waste streams and how this new legislation impacts them. A certified sustainability advisory firm like KCIC Consulting or a waste disposal company that offers a walk-through program can help.
The purpose of a walk-through program is to evaluate your waste procedures. This allows you to catch potential mistakes before they turn into costly fines.
The best sustainability advisory company will have extensive knowledge of new legislation and, most importantly, how these new laws impact your specific business. This knowledge helps you develop a practical and reliable plan that puts your company in a position to update its waste management practices proactively rather than reactively.
Working with KCIC Consulting will offer your company other benefits as well, including:
- Offering the ability to identify waste streams through profiling and testing
- Transporting your waste to the proper recycling and disposal sites
- Offering evidence that your waste has been appropriately disposed of
- Providing you with any other documentation required of your waste, such as manifests
As national and county governments continue to develop new waste laws or refine current waste laws, it’s essential to put your business in a position where it can more easily adapt to any changes.
Written by Pamela Okutoyi, a development communication associate at KCIC Consulting.