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The plastic waste menace in Kenya: A Nairobi city situation

Author: 
Ong’unya Raphael Odhiambo, Aurah Cathrine Musalagani, Nabwire Joanne Lyanda and Songok Jepchirchir Ruth
Subject Area: 
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Abstract: 

In Kenya, over 24 million plastic bags are used monthly, half of which end up in the solid waste mainstream. Plastic bags now constitute the biggest challenge to solid waste management in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Nairobi is home to three million, three hundred people. They are ingested by livestock endangering their health and even causing death; they choke soils and are slow bio-degraders. The study therefore endeavoured to meet the following objectives: to determine the sources of plastic wastes in Nairobi City and; to determine the factors contributing to the problem of plastic bags waste. A sample of 380 respondents was drawn from the target population using non-probabilistic approach. The age of the participants ranged from 13-60 years. A questionnaire with both structured and unstructured items was used for data collection. Interviews and observations were also made to enrich information from the questionnaire. The instruments were piloted to determine their validity and reliability. The study established that: households contribute the bulk of the solid waste which included; plastic bottles, carton boxes, metals, glassware, and sharp objects with plastic bags waste forming the bulk of the total waste. Main sources of the waste included plastic industries, supermarkets, shops, hotels, and hospitals. Main factors that contribute to accumulation of plastic wastes included: lack of adherence to the guidelines on solid waste management by stakeholders in the city, failure of the City Council of Nairobi to address the problem of plastic bag waste due to weak policies, and industries and supermarkets that produce and release large volumes of plastic bags to the consumers. The study therefore recommended that: consumers to be educated on the health hazards that emanate from poor disposal of plastic wastes and the Kenya government to legislate sound laws on plastic waste management to strengthen the by-laws for effective reinforcement in the city solid waste management. The government should encourage the establishment of plastic waste recycling industries to assist in plastic waste management.

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