The New Waste Management Act


The new waste management act, drafted in 2021, introduces significant requirements for counties in Kenya to ensure responsible waste management practices. One of the key provisions is that counties must ensure that all incoming waste is weighed or estimated, and the quantities are recorded in tons. This measure aims to enhance transparency and accountability in waste management processes.

Counties are also mandated to improve the infrastructure leading to landfills. This includes developing and maintaining motorable roads inside the landfill sites to ensure easy access during waste disposal. Additionally, waste must be spread, covered, and compacted at regular intervals to minimize environmental impacts. However, many devolved units are currently facing challenges in handling waste due to the lack of necessary infrastructure.

Another crucial aspect of the Sustainable Waste Management Act is the requirement for counties to implement appropriate control measures for managing dumpsite fires. Enhancing security and control of disposal sites is essential to prevent illegal activities and safeguard public health and the environment.

The act represents a significant shift from a linear to a circular economy and emphasizes the use of the waste hierarchy approach. By promoting sustainable waste management practices, the act aims to improve the health of all Kenyans and reduce air, land, freshwater, and marine pollution.

It is important to note that the law specifically targets non-hazardous waste. According to the new legislation, waste must be segregated at the source. Failure to comply with waste segregation at the household level can result in a fine of Sh20,000. Private sector entities that fail to adhere to the provisions of the act commit an offense and may face a fine of up to Sh200,000 upon conviction.

In addition to the fine imposed on the entity, the person responsible for the private sector entity may also be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months. These stringent measures highlight the importance of waste segregation and underscore the commitment to achieving sustainable waste management practices.

Under the Sustainable Waste Management Act, waste will be collected and transported by NEMA-licensed waste service providers to compost facilities or material recovery facilities. All waste service providers are required to collect, handle, and transport segregated waste in accordance with the provisions of the act.

Macharia, an official associated with waste management, warned that waste service providers contravening the segregation provisions of the law may face penalties, including fines of up to Sh50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both. These enforcement measures aim to ensure compliance and contribute to the successful implementation of the act's objectives.

The Sustainable Waste Management Act represents a significant step towards promoting sustainable practices, reducing pollution, and achieving a cleaner and healthier environment in Kenya. By embracing the waste hierarchy and enforcing waste segregation, the act encourages individuals, households, and businesses to take responsibility for their waste generation and contribute to a circular economy.

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