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Solid Waste Management in Kenya

Solid waste management in Kenya

Solid waste management in Kenya is a major headache, not only for the government but also for individuals as well. That is because poorly disposed of solid waste is a known source of environmental pollution and can have serious health effects on people and animals. Therefore, the need for effective solid waste management cannot be overemphasized.

Everyone, individuals and corporations, must have the know-how on how they are supposed to manage their waste. In this article, we shall discuss the various types of solid waste, the process of waste management, the importance of solid waste management, and a lot more about this important exercise. Join us through the post to gain valuable information on how to keep the environment free from solid waste.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), solid waste is any material left behind after industrial, community, domestic, and other activities without further use. Material that will not be meaningfully used any further by the owner. Here, you should note that the term ‘solid’ also applies to liquid and semi-solid materials. 

Solid waste management is collecting, treating, and disposing of solid waste. Solid waste must be collected and transported to a central area where it will be treated before being disposed of. Many households have a waste collection point where they treat solid waste before disposing of or reusing it.

Table of Contents

Types and Sources of Solid Waste in Kenya

Before you learn about solid waste management, you should know the different types of solid waste and where they come from.

1. Domestic Solid Waste

In countries such as Kenya, most rural areas have no robust waste management systems. That is why domestic solid wastes are included here as a type or source of solid waste. Many rural households have ways of collecting, treating, and disposing of waste. Waste products from food remain, plastics, paper, and agricultural activities in these areas are mostly treated, recycled, and reused in the same household.

The waste management process in most rural parts of Kenya is not strictly controlled, so it may need to be done better. These results in environmental pollution and the risk of human and animal waste-related diseases. Proper composting, bio-digestion and other forms of waste management should be encouraged in these areas. 

2. Municipal Solid Waste

Municipal solid waste comes from residential areas, working areas, schools, hospitals, hotels, shops, and any other establishment which holds people or where they meet. The main characteristic of municipal solid waste is that it comes from towns, cities, markets, or shopping centers. These places have established waste collection and management systems in the area. Managing solid waste from these places belongs to an established authority rather than individuals.

Food waste, plastics, paper, leather material, and a small amount of construction debris make up most of this waste. There is also some hazardous material like broken bulbs, batteries, chemicals, and discarded medicines. The amount of municipal solid waste depends on the population of the area, the economic activities, and the levels of development. Large cities and towns will generate more waste than small urban centers.

3. Industrial Solid Waste

Industrial solid waste is toxic and harmful and needs specialized treatment and disposal. Industrial solid waste comes from food processing activities, manufacturing activities, chemical production activities, brewing activities, paper-making activities, and any other processing activity that produces toxic waste. Large industrial towns are the ones that suffer the most from this kind of waste.

The most vulnerable people are those who live near these industries. The harmful waste contaminates the environment by mixing with water sources and catchment areas. Continued exposure to this waste will cause genetic disorders, rare skin infections, and in extreme cases, cancer. Aquatic animals like fish that live in contaminated waters will also be affected.

4. Agricultural Solid Waste

Agricultural solid waste comes from agricultural activities or the residue from such activities. Here in Kenya, this kind of waste is not very harmful as most of it is reused. For example, most animal dung is used as manure for crop farming. This dung can also be used for biogas production, generating energy for homes. Many people also use or sell straws as animal fodder. The most bothersome are rice husks, maize combs, nut shells, etc., since they mostly have no further use.

Chemical residues like fertilizers and other chemicals in the soil are also examples of agricultural solid wastes. When these chemicals remain on the soil, they will cause harm to future plants or animals which graze in such fields. When they are washed away by rain, they end up in water catchment areas, harming people, animals, and aquatic life.

5. Hazardous Solid Waste

Also known as bio-medical solid waste, hazardous solid waste is a special category since it needs special treatment and disposal. Just like industrial waste, which is toxic and harmful, hazardous waste is corrosive, ignitable, infectious, reactive, or explosive. It means that if they are left exposed, they will cause harm to people, animals, and the environment.

Hazardous solid waste is generated from the treatment of people and animals. Hospitals, vet stores, clinics, pharmaceutical shops, and other drug-related establishments are the primary sources of this waste. In most cases, hazardous waste is supposed to be collected, quantified, and reported to authorities since its disposal needs specialized equipment, chemicals, and techniques.

Proper Solid Waste Management Methods

To properly treat and dispose of solid waste, you should know the generation method or the type of waste. That is because different types of solid waste will need to be managed differently. The following is how different categories of solid wastes are treated, controlled, or disposed of to live no lasting harm to the people, animals, or environment.

1. Municipal/Domestic Solid Waste Management in Kenya

Municipal and domestic solid waste essentially differ in the places they are generated. Their management method is similar and will, therefore, be combined here. The management of this waste follows the following processes:

a. Collection and transfer

The first step in managing municipal and domestic solid waste is collection and transfer. The waste is collected in small amounts and stored in a designated area, waiting to be transferred to the main collection site. The waste generators, households, offices, shops, schools, markets, etc., are responsible for the initial collection. In domestic waste, the collection point is usually a designated area or a garbage pit. In urban areas, the collection points are assigned dumpsites by the authorities.

After collection, the authorities or private agencies are responsible for picking up the waste and transferring it to a designated dumping site or point. Unlike the initial dump site, which consists of waste from the individual waste generators, this is a large facility where all the solid waste from all the generators in a particular area is deposited. For example, in Nairobi, Kenya, there is the Dandora dumpsite. The waste can also be transferred to a processing facility or a landfill disposal site.

b. Waste separation and sorting

After the waste arrives in the central depository area, it must be sorted and separated. Sorting and separation are necessary to identify waste that can be reused or recycled. It is a process that feeds many factories the raw materials needed for their operations. Managing solid waste at this point means identifying the different components and grouping them.

In domestic solid waste management in Kenya, this process is commonly ignored. The waste is not sorted or separated, and it all ends up being disposed of the same way, which is wrong. Some of the waste remains undisposed and hence a pollutant to the environment. For example, if the waste is disposed of by burning, then materials that don’t burn will remain undisposed, which is an environmental hazard.

c. Waste disposal

Disposal is the last step in managing solid waste. There are various disposal methods available for municipal and domestic solid waste. The disposal method to be used will depend on the type of waste. It should, therefore, be done after the waste has been sorted to avoid poor disposal or treatment.

i. Open dumping

Open dumping is the most common method of solid waste disposal in Kenya. For the technique to be effective, it should only be for bio-degradable waste. The waste will eventually rot and form part of the natural soil of the area. The waste should be spread in a wide area to minimize the smell that comes with the rotting process. This method of solid waste disposal has two main shortcomings:

  • The waste may not be appropriately sorted, which leads to non-biodegradable material left on the land surface.
  • It needs large tracts of land to be practiced safely. The lack of enough land, especially in densely populated urban areas, has led to the accumulation of solid waste material in small spaces, which become an eyesore to the neighboring community.

ii. Landfilling

Landfilling is another method used when disposing and managing solid waste. It involves digging land mines that are used to deposit non-recyclable solid waste. Landfills should not be confused with dumpsites. Landfills are controlled areas that dispose of solid waste on land without creating a hazardous environment. Landfills are controlled mainly by authorities who determine which waste is deposited there.

iii. Compositing

Managing solid waste in small urban areas and domestic setting can also be done through composting. It is a very popular method in rural agricultural households whereby the waste is dumped in a compost pit and mixed with other materials to produce manure. The manure is then used in the farms to support crop growth.

In large towns and cities, compositing is rare because of the large quantities of waste involved. Also, people in large towns have no use for compost manure, making composting an unideal solid waste management method in Kenya.

Bamoyeast BFB

Bamoyeast BFB is a chemical enzyme from Biozone Kenya that helps in composting manure and in garbage pit management. The chemical has the following distinct benefits:

  • Removes bad odor from your compost or garbage pit.
  • Reduces sludge volume by digesting more solids.
  • It digests more waste in less time.
  • It leads to the production of high-quality manure in less time.

iv. Burning

Burning is another method used in managing solid waste in Kenya. After sorting and separation, all the combustible waste is taken to a separate area where it is incinerated. The method is advised only when there are strict sorting and separation procedures, so non-combustible material is not included.

2. Industrial Solid Waste Management in Kenya

Industrial solid waste management in Kenya mainly follows the same disposal methods as municipal and domestic waste methods. Landfilling, open dumping, and burning are the methods of dealing with industrial waste. However, the method to dispose of industrial waste will depend on what type of waste it is. That is because some industrial waste is harmful and toxic to the environment., people, and animals.

Before disposing of industrial solid waste, it is crucial to check whether it is harmful or toxic. For waste that is not harmful, open dumping can be applied. For toxic waste, landfill and incineration methods are the best. Care should, however, be taken when burning industrial waste, as some can be explosive. Also, some may leave a harmful residue affecting the environment or get washed into water bodies. Even after burning, the safest method to dispose of industrial waste is to use a landfill.

3. Agricultural Solid Waste Management in Kenya

There are different methods of managing solid waste from agricultural activities. The following are the main ones:

a. Composting

Composting is among the primary ways of managing solid waste from agricultural activities. It involves collecting all biodegradable waste in the same place, usually a compost pit, and mixing it with other agents to make manure. The manure produced is used for crop farming. Composting is the best method for organic crop farming because it ensures that the manure has no chemical agents, unlike synthetic fertilizers. For the best technical support, advice, and organic farming products, you can contact Biozone Kenya.

For a composting chemical, you should get the Biozone Bamoyeast BFB enzyme that will make composting easier, remove bad odor from your compost, and give you fertile manure in the shortest time possible.

b. Animal feeds

Another way of managing solid waste from agricultural activities is utilizing the waste as animal feeds. Many waste products can feed fish, chickens, dairy cows, pigs, and other farm animals. Some animal waste can also be used as feed for other animals. For example, the droppings from layer and broiler chicken can be used to feed fish and pigs. Hay, which is used to feed cows, also comes from maize stalks, rice husks, etc.

Reusing agricultural waste on the farm is the best way to make your farm self-sufficient and free from synthetic and chemical products. For support on how to use and reuse agricultural waste, contact Biozone Kenya.

c. Biogas production

Biogas production is also a way of managing solid waste from agricultural activities. Animal waste and other organic waste in a farm can be anaerobically decomposed to produce methane and carbon dioxide gases. Methane gas can be used for cooking while the less harmful carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. The byproduct of this process, called sludge, can also be used as manure in crop farming. For more information on how to produce biogas on your farm, contact Biozone Kenya.

d. Other uses

Fuel, building materials, and paper production are other ways that can be used in managing solid waste from agricultural activities. Maize cobs and cow dung are popular fuel sources in some parts of Kenya. Cow dung can also be mixed with water and used as building materials. For example, most Maasai tribe houses are built using animal dung like cows, sheep, and goats. Sugarcane bagasse, cotton stalks, rice husks, coconut waste, wheat waste, etc., can be used to produce paper and cardboard.

4. Biomedical Solid Waste Management in Kenya

Biomedical solid waste management in Kenya has remained a challenge in many parts of the country. Many health facilities have been established in the country to cater to the health needs of the growing population, but how to dispose of the waste they produce seems to have been forgotten. It is now a common sight to find biomedical waste mixed together with municipal or domestic waste. It is wrong to mix these two types of solid waste since biomedical waste is hazardous to people and the environment.

Burning and landfills are the best ways to deal with biomedical waste. Considering how the waste may be harmful, the residue should not be left on the environment but taken to a landfill even after burning. All health facilities in the country should have incinerators, burning areas, or landfills. The municipal authorities tasked with collecting waste should not collect biomedical waste together with others.

5. Semi-solid and Liquid Waste Management in Kenya

Managing solid waste in Kenya also includes semi-solid and liquid waste. People have concentrated on the disposal of solid waste that they have forgotten about semi-solid and liquid waste. In Kenya, most of the semi-solid and liquid waste is disposed of freely in the environment. This poses a serious threat to the environment, people, and animals.

The main reason that makes the collection of this kind of waste difficult is that it is not easily transferable. That means every waste generator, individual or establishment, should have a clear semi-solid and liquid waste management system. That means this waste should be disposed of at the source.

Semi-solid and liquid waste should be treated before it is released into the environment. Treatment means breaking down the waste into non-harmful components, which are usually water and a safe residue. That means it is important to have a wastewater treatment plant in your home or establishment for managing semi-solid and liquid waste.

Biozone Wastewater Treatment Plant

It is an affordable semi-solid and liquid treatment plant that will ensure that the final water and slurry released to the environment is safe. The water produced can also be reused for other non-essential purposes. To properly treat semi-solid and liquid waste, requires the employment of several physical-chemical treatment steps to remove the contaminants to a level that will allow for the discharge or reuse of the wastewater plus safe disposal of the slurry.

Dissolved contaminants, suspended matter, fats, oils, and grease require other technologies and solutions for effective treatment. If you need an efficient semi-solid and liquid treatment system, designed with a focus on minimal maintenance, Biozone Kenya can deliver a tailor-made, turn-key solution that will consistently meet all requirements.

Environzyme BFB

Environzyme BFB is a free-flowing powder that contains a concentrated source of free-flowing hydrolytic enzymes and ten strains of natural bacteria that are genetically capable of producing enzymes in wastewater treatment systems under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. This enzyme is used in all Biozone Water Treatment Plants to break down the solids in semi-solid waste to get smaller, harmless, odorless, and manageable sludge. The enzyme can also be utilized in all pre-existing water treatment plants in your establishment.

The main benefits of Environzyme BFB are:

  • Sludge volume will be reduced as more and more solids are digested.
  • Sludge will be easier to pump.
  • The water will have less odor.

6. Minimization of Solid Waste

Minimizing the generation of waste can also be termed as a way of managing solid waste. That is because, with less waste to manage, the process will be easier for all the concerned parties. All waste generators, individuals or organizations, should adopt the principles of reducing, reusing, and recycling as ways of managing waste.

a. Reducing

Reducing waste means preventing the generation of waste at the source. The generator finds ways of discarding less waste by avoiding materials that generate waste or using long-lasting materials. Product packaging is among the leading generators of solid waste at the domestic and municipal levels. That means using environmentally friendly packaging materials that are durable or can be used in other ways is a sure way of reducing waste from packaging materials.

The government of Kenya banned the production, selling, and use of plastic bags as packaging materials. The aim was to curb the rapidly rising environmental pollution caused by these bags. Users were advised to use more durable, reusable, and environmentally friendly bags as the best alternative. Although the move was unfavorable to some, especially the manufacturers of polythene bags, it was a good way of managing solid waste from plastics. Kenya is now almost free of these plastics as waste.

b. Reusing

Reusing material that could otherwise be discarded is another efficient way of managing solid waste. Everyone is advised to reuse any material if it’s reusable. You can do that by repairing it, donating it to others, or selling it if you have no further use. Reusing is considered a cheaper way of managing solid waste than recycling since there will be no reprocessing of the material.

Using durable glass, reusing boxes, reusing bottles, using refillable pens, etc., are some ways to ensure less waste is produced. In short, for anything you use, think of different ways it can be reused before throwing it away.

c. Recycling

Recycling, which also includes composting, is the leading way of managing solid waste. Batteries, paper, glass, maize combs, maize stalks, rice husks, etc., are some of the materials that are recycled in great numbers and amounts. By doing that, it ensures that there is less solid waste to be disposed.

Besides ensuring less environmental pollution, recycling also creates jobs, provides companies with necessary raw materials, and ensures no need for new incinerators or landfills. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) estimates that out of the 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste collected worldwide each year, 60% can be recycled. This data means that recycling should be adopted as the main way of managing solid waste in every country, Kenya included. 

The main advantages of recycling are:

  • It conserves resources for future use.
  • It prevents greenhouse emissions hence saving the environment.
  • It is a cheap source of raw materials.
  • Reduces the need for new landfills and other waste disposal methods.

Benefits of Solid Waste Management in Kenya

The following are the benefits derived from proper solid waste management in Kenya:

i. It is lucrative

Going by the UNEP data about the amount of waste collected or generated each year, waste recycling is a very lucrative industry. Those who have ventured into the industry have earned a pretty penny from the business. The trick is that as long as people and establishments continuously generate waste, these industries will constantly have a cheap source of raw materials, the main component in the production chain. With cheap raw materials, the production costs are low, which translates to big profit margins.

ii. The environment remains clean

There is no way of managing solid waste that is 100% environmentally friendly, but proper disposal methods will ensure a reduced danger to the environment. Properly taking care of our waste means the environment will stay lean, so people and animals will remain disease-free. The benefit will be adequately enjoyed only if the disposal methods are complete. For example, although Nairobi County has a dumping site in Dandora where most of the solid waste from the city is dumped, further disposal of the waste from the dump site is slow, which means the surrounding community is in danger of diseases.

iii. Saves the earth by conserving resources

Properly managing solid waste saves the earth’s natural resources, which future generations can use. It is achieved mainly by recycling waste. When paper factories use recycled paper to manufacture new ones, they avoid using trees and water, which can be used later for other purposes. UNEP estimates that 17 trees and over 50% of water are saved for every tonne of paper recycled.

iv. Less environmental pollution

Managing solid waste poorly leads to increased environmental pollution. Accumulation of waste results in the production of harmful gases like methane and carbon monoxide. When these gases are released into the environment, it eventually causes harm to people and animals. When biomedical and hazardous waste is not adequately managed, it can be a source of severe diseases like cancer to the neighboring people. Also, waste can be washed into water bodies like rivers, where they will negatively affect aquatic life.

v. It is a way of earning income

Individuals can also earn money by managing solid waste properly. Household-used bottles, tins, old newspapers, etc., can all be sold to make you some extra cash. All you have to do is sort your waste correctly, so the buyer knows what they are buying. It would help if you learned to segregate your household waste so it can be quickly sold. Instead of recycling companies buying from waste collectors, they can buy straight from individuals.

Vi. It is a source of employment

Solid waste management in Kenya is a good source of employment, especially in urban areas. Collection, transfer, sorting, and segregation of solid waste need labor, usually sourced from the local unemployed youths. Also, recycling firms offer employment opportunities to the unemployed. With the devolved government in Kenya, every county has ways of managing solid waste, which has employed many youths from rural areas.

Disadvantages of Solid Waste Management in Kenya

Although solid waste management in Kenya has distinct advantages and it is a necessary part of our lives, the process has some shortcomings as shown below:

i. Huge start-up costs

Managing solid properly needs huge initial capital that may be out of reach for many. If you want to start collecting and transferring waste, you will need trucks and labor which are expensive. To start a recycling factory, you will need capital for the new machinery, labor, and the source of raw materials to begin. That is a capital-intensive venture. Therefore, managing solid waste will need you to come up with the required capital, which may not be available.

ii. Substandard products

Recycling is a significant part of managing solid waste. The problem is many recycled products have a short lifespan or are substandard, which becomes a problem for the consumer. When a consumer buys a recycled product while aware of the same, it is okay because most of the products are cheaper. But when a consumer buys a recycled product, unaware if it’s recycled, they will end up disappointed. The government should regulate the industry to ensure that all recycled products are duly labeled as such, protecting consumers from unscrupulous sellers.

iii. Exposure to dangerous chemicals

The dump sites, processing facilities, or landfills are dangerous to the people working at the sites or the surrounding community. In managing solid waste, when it is not quickly disposed, it will produce harmful gases like methane and carbon monoxide, which are a health risk to nearby people. Also, when it rains, water from these dumpsites mixes with other flowing water, which may end up in significant catchment bodies like rivers that are a water source for people and animals. That will expose anyone who uses that water to serious health risks.

Effects of Poor Solid Waste Management in Kenya

Although Kenya is making great strides when it comes to managing solid waste, there is still more that needs to be done. The following are some of the common effects of poor solid waste management in Kenya:

  • Poor disposal of solid waste by the concerned organizations leads to the heaping up of waste which becomes a serious problem for the surrounding community.
  • Due to more dumping of solid waste than disposal, the waste begins to decompose in an uncontrolled environment which becomes a breeding ground for disease-causing insects.
  • Undisposed heaps of waste produce a foul smell due to the decomposition process. That makes the area near the dump site uninhabitable.
  • When biomedical and hazardous waste is not properly separated from the other solid waste, the chemical residues in this waste drain into the soil hence polluting groundwater. The fertility and productivity of the soil will also be negatively affected.
  • Burning hazardous waste together with other waste like paper will release toxic gases into the air. When the neighboring people breathe that air, it will cause chronic illnesses like skin diseases and cancer.

FAQs About Solid Waste Management in Kenya

What are the different types of waste?

There are those who ask about the different types of waste. Waste can be broadly divided into liquid waste, industrial waste, solid garbage, and recyclable waste. This includes garbage from households, industries, schools, offices, marketplaces, restaurants and other places.

What is industrial waste?

There are those who are curious about industrial waste. Industrial wastes are typically generated from chemical plants, cement factories, power plants, textile industries, food processing industries, and petroleum industries. Each of these industries produces different types of waste products.

What is biodegradable waste?

Some people want to know what is biodegradable waste. These are the wastes from our kitchen, including food, garden waste, etc. Biodegradable waste is also known as moist waste. This can be composted to obtain manure. We can decompose biodegradable waste. Therefore, any waste that will eventually decompose will fall into this category.

What is non-biodegradable waste?

When it comes to managing solid waste, there are those who want to know what is non-biodegradable waste. Non-biodegradable waste is known as dry waste. Dry wastes can be recycled and can be reused. Non-biodegradable wastes do not decompose by themselves and hence are major pollutants. Any type of waste that will never decompose should fall into this category.

Why is solid waste management in Kenya important?

There are those who why much importance is accorded to solid waste management in Kenya. It is because it saves the environment from the harmful effects of toxic materials which are present in solid waste. Poorly managing solid waste will lead to air, water, and soil pollution which will eventually be harmful to everyone in the country

Parting Short

Solid waste management in Kenya needs careful planning and execution. It is a sector that has a direct effect on our quality of life as citizens. When the environment becomes contaminated by solid waste, it leads to serious health issues and diseases like cancer and skin infections which will make people spend huge sums of money on treatment-related expenditures. That means that this sensitive sector cannot be left to chance and the government needs to put in place proper controls and regulations on how waste is managed in the country.

Biozone Kenya offers the right solutions when it comes to solid, semi-solid, and liquid waste management in the country. For advice and tailor-made products, contact the company on the best ways of managing solid waste.

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