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Why Kenyans risk jail time for improper waste disposal

The Sustainable Waste Management Bill has been referred to the Senate

Garbage trucks arrive on December 10, 2009, at the Dandora dump in Nairobi. (Photo by SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Members of Parliament on Tuesday, June 21 debated a bill that would see Kenyans risk paying a Sh20,000 fine or face a minimum six month jailtime if they fail to properly separate their garbage before disposing.

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According to the Sustainable Waste Management Bill, 2021 passed by the MPs will see Kenyans in their homes have to separate their trash into three different categories before disposing.

Waste is usually classified into two, organic and inorganic waste. Organic waste can be defined as waste that is produced by living organisms, for example; leftover food. While inorganic waste results from human intervention or non-living organisms such as glass.

The bill which has now been referred to the Senate for deliberation will see Kenyans have to divide their waste into three categories during disposal, indicated by green, blue and yellow bins.

If the bill is assented to law, Kenyans will have to dispose organic waste into green dustbins, re-usable waste on blue bins with hazardous material set to be disposed in yellow bins.

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Chris Kiptoo told KTN News that the bill is assented to law will have a major shift on the way Kenyans dispose waste.

“The Bill went to Parliament and it was approved. Because waste management is a devolved function it has now gone to Senate for further debate and enactment. After that, we will have a new Law dealing with waste management. It is going to be a must for all of us to segregate waste at source,” said Kiptoo.

Dr Ayub Macharia, director Environmental Education and Awareness while addressing a symposium organised by the Embassy of Japan said that Kenyans need to adopt recycling in order to get rid of the massive landfills.

“The linear waste management model was a problem because we mixed all forms of waste making it hard to segregate them for recycling. It is also the reason for the many landfills popping up even in residential areas. The same landfills affect the climate since they produce greenhouse gases,” concluded Dr Macharia.

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