Nairobi, October 25, 2023 – In a pivotal move towards environmental responsibility and sustainable business practices, Sustainable Inclusive Business – Kenya (SIB-K), a division of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), has partnered with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to drive compliance with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations in Kenya through a Private Sector Sensitization Workshop, supported by USAID and Prosper Africa.
The workshop raised awareness and fostered dialogue between businesses and NEMA, focusing on the initial phase of EPR implementation: data collection and environmental cleanup. EPR, a global concept, mandates that producers and manufacturers manage the entire lifecycle of their products, including disposal, thus adhering to the polluter-pays principle.
Kenya currently recycles only 8%–10% of its plastic waste, making plastic pollution a pressing concern. Successful EPR implementation not only aids in reducing environmental degradation but also accelerates progress toward a 40% recycling rate for plastic packaging by 2030, as outlined by the Kenya Plastics Pact.
USAID supports implementing Kenya’s plastic policies, awareness, and forming private-sector partnerships through its engagement with KEPSA under the USAID Save Our Seas Initiative, aimed to tackle ocean plastic pollution in 14 countries and regions, including Kenya.
Dr. Ayub Macharia, Director of Environmental Implementation at NEMA, expressed his commitment to working hand-in-hand with the private sector to ensure swift and effective EPR implementation. “Through shared environmental responsibility, we can reduce waste and minimize its impact.”
“We believe that private sector engagement is crucial in addressing environmental challenges, and EPR offers a structured framework for businesses to make a positive impact. Through this workshop, we aim to equip businesses with the knowledge and motivation to embrace EPR, not just as a regulatory requirement but as a responsible and sustainable business practice through assisted compliance,” said Ebenezer Amadi, Program Manager at KEPSA.
Anna Ghnouly, Environment and Natural Resources Officer at USAID, emphasized that Kenya has taken significant steps in reducing environmental degradation and enhancing the circular economy. “This partnership with KEPSA aligns with the growing global consensus that businesses can positively impact the environment and the country’s long-term prosperity. A collaborative approach that involves the public and private sectors is essential in realizing Kenya’s vision for a greener and more sustainable future. USAID will remain committed to supporting Kenya in this transformative journey.“
Speaking during a panel discussion on the private sector’s role in EPR compliance, Faith Ngige, the Coordinator of the Climate Business Information Network Kenya (CBIN-K), emphasized KEPSA’s commitment to the producers to enhance compliance through partnerships and collaboration with a bigger vision of creating a circular economy. “The EPR approach in Kenya is a joint agreement between the government and the private sector. It is a win-win situation; thus, one party cannot achieve this ambitious vision alone.”
She was echoed by Miriam Bomett, Deputy Head, Policy, Research and Advocacy at the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), saying, “The mandatory strategy is working, as we see more companies complying with EPR. We’re conscious of the need to help the government and the private sector through a collaborative approach to assist compliance.”
“As a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), our mandate in enhancing recycling is, among others, by incentivizing collection or establishing adequate infrastructure for collection through, for instance, reverse logistics, so that the tracks doing deliveries can come back with the empty packaging materials for recycling,” said Joyce Gachugi, the CEO of Packaging Producer Responsibility Organization (PAKPRO).
Some challenges, however, remain, as highlighted by Mavji Varsani, the CEO and Founder of Vintz Plastics. “The biggest hindrance to plastic recycling is the fact that the pricing for a recycled product can’t be sold for a higher price than a virgin product. We must increase the market for recycled content in Kenya if we’re to increase the recycling rate, which currently stands below 10%.”
Enid Kirui, the Regulatory and Public Affairs Manager at L’Oreal East Africa, emphasized the need for businesses to comply with the regulations, saying, “EPR is part of the bigger picture in running sustainable businesses. Therefore, if you’re not compliant, one is that NEMA will come for you. But more, unfortunately, is that you fail to contribute toward ethical environmental protection. The question, as businesses, we must ask is, what are we offering beyond the profits?
The workshop brought together over 100 private sector leaders, industry experts, formal and informal waste sector representatives, government officials, and development partners.
KEPSA is Kenya’s apex private sector organization, representing diverse businesses and supporting their development, training, networking, and access to global opportunities. Learn more at kepsa.or.ke.
About Sustainable Inclusive Business
SIB-K, a knowledge center under KEPSA, was established with funding from the Netherlands Government. SIB-K promotes sustainable and inclusive business practices, working toward positive impacts on people, the planet, and profit. SIB-K is the Secretariat to the Kenya Plastics Pact.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. Learn more at usaid.gov.
About Prosper Africa
Prosper Africa is the White House initiative to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and African countries. Prosper Africa brings together – and enhances – the full suite of U.S. Government services and resources to help companies and investors do business in U.S. and African markets. Through the initiative, the U.S. Government is launching innovative new tools to advance deals, unlock market opportunities, and strengthen business and investment climates. Learn more at prosperafrica.gov