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Plastic recycling project launched in Kakuma

Residents of Turkana West sub-county have a reason to smile following the launch of an ambitious plastic waste recycling project, aimed at solving the waste pollution menace in Kakuma.

The process of recycling waste begins with the collection of plastic waste from the community in towns and villages which is then transported to the recycling site.

At the site, the waste is aggregated depending on the type of plastic. It is then weighed before it is taken to the crushing machine.

In Turkana however, the crushed material will be transported to Nairobi and processed into pellets of various types before the final manufacturing of finished products like water bottles, plastic chairs, water, and cooking oil jerricans among others.

The project seeks to ensure a clean environment as well as create employment, especially for the women and youth in the area.

It also seeks to address climate change and ecological challenges in the county, according to the  Danish Refugee Council (DRC) Country Director Simon Nzioki.

The project is being spearheaded by the Danish Refugee Council, Mr. Green Africa, and Unilever with full support from the county government.

Speaking during the launch, the county executive committee member for environment and climate change Elizabeth Loote said the project has so far employed 60 people with the larger proportion being women.

She said the project is in with the governor’s dream of creating employment opportunities for women and youth in the county.

She further termed the project as a solution to waste pollution that has bedeviled the county for many years.

“It is my prayer that the value chain will not end at crushing of plastic waste, which are later transported to Nairobi, but with other partners, the county government will help complete the value chain,” said Loote.

Nzioki said the project which has been rolled out on a six-month pilot project, will also go a long way in addressing climate change.

It is the second project to be rolled out in the country after a similar one was launched in Nairobi County. “The projects aim to reduce, reuse, recycle, and put food in the pockets of the members of the community,” he said.

The DRC Director expressed optimism that after the pilot phase, the stakeholders would have identified the gaps that would inform a more systematic work and give development actors an opportunity to see how they can supplement the county government efforts in plastic waste recycling.

He said the project had provided jobs for 65 percent of host communities and 35 percent of refugees who live in the sub-county.

He further said together with Mr Green Africa organization they have identified and trained 180 waste pickers and hope to train more in the coming weeks.

According to Mr Green Africa CEO Keiran Smith, the organization seeks to ensure that plastics are bought in a fair, transparent, and inclusive manner, unlike in the past where it was not done fairly.

“That way, we can create a win-win situation where we buy fair and we get access to the commodities (plastics),” he said.

Another principle behind this project was value addition of the products while benefiting the community. “Today I am proud and convinced that we have the masterminds, the commitment, and the passion to make this project work so that it is not just a pilot for six months, ” he said.

One of the waste collectors, Mary Paul, said the project has provided her with an employment opportunity, adding she is able to buy waste plastics in various collection points in Kakuma and resell them to the project site for a profit.

“If the project will be buying and paying for our waste plastics promptly then we shall be making higher profits,” she said.

Another beneficiary who works as a waste aggregator at the site John Erupe said he had now found a source of livelihood because he was previously jobless.

By Peter Gitonga

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