Kenya Association of Waste Recyclers (KAWR) is a pivotal organization in Kenya’s waste management sector, established in 2017. As the nation embarks on implementing Extended Producer Responsibility  (EPR), KAWR stands at the forefront, advocating for sustainable waste management practices. It serves as an umbrella body for private sector entities engaged in materials recovery from waste, encompassing activities such as recycling, composting, and power generation.

The implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework in Kenya necessitates a strategic approach to determining subsidy rates for waste collection and recycling entities. These rates are pivotal in ensuring the efficacy and sustainability of the EPR program. Below are the key considerations for establishing these rates:

Determining Subsidy Rates: Key Considerations

  • Collection Costs: It is imperative for producers to evaluate the financial outlay required for waste collection services, which encompasses transportation, sorting, and handling operations. A direct correlation exists between the complexity of these activities and the subsidy rate; more intricate and costly collection processes may necessitate a higher rate of subsidy.
  • Recycling Costs: The financial burden associated with the recycling process, including but not limited to sorting, cleaning, and processing, must be taken into account. Materials that incur higher recycling costs should be considered for increased subsidy rates to ensure their sustainable management.
  • Market Value of Recyclables: The market demand for recyclable materials significantly influences the subsidy rate. Materials with a robust market presence, such as PET bottles, may operate effectively under a reduced subsidy rate due to their inherent value.
  • Environmental Impact: Producers are tasked with evaluating the environmental dividends of recycling various materials. Materials that offer substantial environmental benefits, particularly those that are hazardous or challenging to recycle, may justify a heightened subsidy to promote their recovery and reuse.
  • Social and Economic Considerations: The socio-economic implications on individuals and communities involved in waste collection, particularly waste pickers, informal collectors, and marginalized groups, must be factored into the subsidy equation. Subsidies serve as a mechanism to enhance their quality of life and work conditions.
  • Overall Recycling Goals: The subsidy rate should be congruent with the overarching recycling objectives at both national and regional levels. Ambitious recycling targets may require more generous subsidies to catalyze progress towards these goals.


Waste Streams Requiring Enhanced Incentives

Certain waste streams warrant additional incentives for a variety of reasons:

  • Complex Materials: Waste streams comprising materials that pose recycling challenges, such as multi-layer plastics and electronic components, often necessitate higher subsidies to foster their appropriate management and recycling.
  • Low Market Value: Waste streams characterized by low market desirability, such as mixed plastics, require stronger incentives to bolster recycling initiatives and ensure their viability.
  • Environmental Impact: Waste streams that include hazardous or toxic substances, like batteries and electronic waste, should receive incentives to mitigate potential environmental degradation.
  • Social Equity: The critical role of waste pickers and informal collectors in the recycling ecosystem should be acknowledged through incentives that promote their fair treatment and economic inclusion.
  • Circular Economy Goals: Waste streams that align with the principles of a circular economy, particularly those that enable closed-loop recycling, may benefit from additional incentives to support their transition to sustainable practices.

Criteria for Subsidy Eligibility                                                                                                                

Entities involved in waste management, such as waste pickers, recyclers, and collection operators, can qualify for subsidies by adhering to the following criteria:

  • Compliance: Adherence to EPR regulations is non-negotiable. Entities must demonstrate compliance with established waste handling, sorting, and recycling protocols.
  • Reporting and Transparency: Ensuring transparency in reporting on waste collection and recycling processes is paramount. It is crucial for all stakeholders to disclose their methods, volumes, and frequencies of waste collection and recycling. This transparency not only fosters trust among consumers and regulatory bodies but also promotes accountability. Entities involved in these activities should provide comprehensive reports that detail their specific contributions to waste management and recycling efforts, thereby demonstrating their commitment to environmental stewardship.
  • Inclusion of Informal Sector: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes must not overlook the informal sector, which often plays a significant role in waste management, especially in developing economies. It is essential to recognize and incorporate informal waste pickers into the formal waste management framework. This inclusion can be achieved through policy reforms, capacity-building programs, and by providing access to necessary resources. Integrating these workers helps in legitimizing their role, ensuring fair compensation, and improving waste management systems’ efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Performance Metrics: Linking financial incentives such as subsidies to specific performance metrics could drive better outcomes in waste management. These metrics might include, but are not limited to, the total volume of waste collected, the rates of recycling achieved, and the quantifiable environmental impact of these activities. By doing so, it encourages organizations to strive for higher performance standards and aligns financial rewards with tangible environmental benefits. Such a system would incentivize innovation and investment in more efficient collection and recycling technologies and methodologies, ultimately leading to enhanced sustainability in waste management.

Kenya Association of Waste Recyclers (KAWR) is the umbrella body for the private sector industry involved in the materials recovery from waste; this includes and is not limited to, retrieval of materials from waste, repair, refurbishment, recycling, remanufacturing, composting, power generation, or any other initiative aimed at extracting value from material that would otherwise have been discarded as waste.

Here are some key points highlighting the advantages of appointing KAWR as your EPR Agent:

1.Extensive Network: KAWR’s membership spans across the country, connecting various stakeholders in the recycling value chain. With over 500 recycling businesses, KAWR has a robust network that covers waste collection, sorting, and conversion into finished products.

2.Community-Based Approach: KAWR collaborates with over 200 Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). This community-driven approach ensures that waste management efforts are inclusive and reach local communities effectively.

3.Resource Conservation Expertise: As the most knowledgeable organization in Kenya regarding resource conservation, KAWR brings unparalleled expertise to the table. Their insights into waste collection, segregation, sorting, reuse, and recycling are invaluab

4.Legislative Influence: KAWR’s active involvement in technical working groups and committees at both national and county levels demonstrates their influence in shaping waste management policies and legislation. Their contributions have been vital in recent legal developments.

5.Training and Capacity Building: KAWR’s commitment to training extends beyond its own members. By sharing knowledge and best practices, they contribute to building a skilled workforce in waste management.

6.Regional Representation: KAWR’s competent board, led by a visionary executive, benefits from the input of 8 regional representatives covering different provincial regions of Kenya that is, Nairobi, Central, Coast, Rift valley, North Eastern, Eastern, Western. This ensures a holistic approach to waste management.

7.Market Network: KAWR’s extensive recycling market network in the East Africa region facilitates the flow of recyclable materials, promoting a circular economy.

By appointing KAWR as your EPR agent, you align with an organization that combines expertise, community engagement, and legislative influence to drive sustainable waste management practices.

Kenya stands at a pivotal moment in its waste management journey, with the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) poised to revolutionize how products are managed at their end-of-life stage. The recent mandate by regulators for producers to present their EPR plans signifies a significant shift towards a more sustainable and accountable approach to waste management. However, amidst this transition, it’s crucial to ensure that no one is left behind, particularly the informal sector players who contribute massively to Kenya’s waste management landscape. In this article, we’ll explore the implications of embracing EPR while advocating for the inclusion and fair treatment of informal sector workers who form the backbone of Kenya’s waste management ecosystem.

EPR is a principle that holds producers accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products, including their disposal. It encourages producers to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products and implement strategies to minimize waste generation, promote recycling, and ensure proper disposal. By shifting the burden of waste management from taxpayers and municipalities to producers, EPR incentivizes product redesign, recycling infrastructure development, and consumer education.

Implementing mandatory EPR plans marks a significant milestone in Kenya’s waste management framework. Regulators now require producers to demonstrate their preparedness in extending responsibility for their products beyond the point of sale. This move aligns with global trends towards sustainable production and consumption and underscores Kenya’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

While the implementation of EPR presents challenges, such as increased compliance costs and logistical complexities, it also offers numerous opportunities for innovation and collaboration. Producers can leverage EPR as a driver for product innovation, waste reduction, and resource efficiency. Additionally, EPR fosters partnerships between producers, recyclers, and waste management stakeholders, leading to a more integrated and efficient waste management ecosystem.

Despite their informal status, waste pickers(reclaimers), recyclers, and small-scale waste management entrepreneurs play a crucial role in Kenya’s waste management landscape. These individuals and small businesses operate at the grassroots level, collecting, sorting, and recycling waste from households, businesses, and public spaces. Their efforts not only prevent valuable resources from ending up in landfills but also contribute to local economic development and poverty alleviation.

As Kenya transitions to EPR, there’s a risk of marginalizing informal sector players who lack formal recognition and access to support mechanisms. Many waste pickers and recyclers rely solely on income generated from collecting and selling recyclable materials. Any disruption to their livelihoods could have devastating consequences for their well-being and that of their families. Thus, it’s imperative to ensure that the transition to EPR is inclusive and equitable, leaving no one behind.

Recognizing the invaluable contribution of the informal sector, it’s essential to develop mechanisms for compensating these workers fairly during the transition to EPR. Producers, regulators, and other stakeholders must collaborate to establish compensation frameworks that acknowledge the economic value of the services provided by informal sector players. This could include direct financial support, access to training and capacity-building programs, and opportunities for formal employment within the waste management sector.

To ensure that compensation reaches those who need it most, sound structures for financial traceability, accountability, and transparency must be put in place. This requires establishing clear guidelines for fund allocation, monitoring mechanisms to track the flow of resources, and transparent reporting mechanisms to ensure that funds are used effectively and equitably. By fostering trust and accountability, these structures can enhance the integrity of the compensation process and promote social equity.

In acknowledging the essential role of the informal sector, we must also commend the formal private sector for its indispensable contributions to Kenya’s waste management sector. Without their investments, innovations, and commitment to sustainable practices, the market dynamics that enable the informal sector’s activities would not exist. The formal private sector plays a pivotal role in the waste management value chain, providing crucial infrastructure, technology, and expertise that support recycling initiatives, waste collection systems, and environmental conservation efforts. Their involvement not only creates employment opportunities but also drives efficiency and quality standards within the industry. Thus, as we navigate the transition to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and prioritize inclusivity, it’s vital to recognize and foster partnerships between the formal private sector and informal stakeholders, leveraging each other’s strengths to build a more resilient and sustainable waste management ecosystem.

As Kenya embraces Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to revolutionize waste management, it’s crucial to recognize and empower the informal sector players who form the backbone of the country’s waste management landscape. By including these unsung heroes in the transition to EPR, addressing their needs, and ensuring their fair compensation and recognition, Kenya can build a more inclusive and sustainable waste management system that leaves no one behind. This commitment to social equity, environmental stewardship, and collaborative partnerships will not only benefit informal sector workers but also contribute to the overall resilience and prosperity of Kenyan society.


Richard Kainika

Nairobi 2024

What is recycling:

Recycling refers to a process of diverting or rescuing valuable materials from the waste stream.

Rescued materials or resources can be re-used, processed into alternative raw materials and/or manufactured into new products, instead of being condemned and disposed at dumpsites.

Existing opportunities

  • As recycling continues to take shape in the country, new and unique opportunities keeps on emerging depending on the material stream one is handling.
  • —Some of major material streams in our waste which continue to offer oppo威而鋼
    rtunities for their value include:
  1. Plastics (PET, HDPE, PP, LDPE)
  2. Waste paper
  3. Scrap metal (Copper, aluminium, steel, cast iron e.t.c.
  4. Textile waste, used oil
  5. Rubber such as used tyres
  6. Bones for crushing to bone meal
  7. Composting of organic waste to organic fertilizer
  8. Collection of food waste for use as animal feeds.


Sample products made from recycled materials and re-use:



  • The price of recycled materials is largely dependent on market demand. However, recyclable materials are readily available hence can fetch a good profit.
  • Ensure quality extraction of materials from waste.
  • Sometimes changes in weather can 威而鋼
    affect collection, however, at such times the demand is high hence good profit.
  • Associated costs in accessing market which vary dependent on source versus market location.


Things to consider:

  1. Identify a place to operate (space for storage)
  2. Collect what is readily available for maximum collection.
  3. Know your market: (Where to sell and at what price).
  4. Maintain good book keeping habit.

Waste is wealth….

KAWR is doing its best in creating the much needed recycling awareness among the public in order to help drive the recycling agenda as well as ensure its members do not have to continuously incur losses due to low value of materials they receive from pickers.

We also collaborating with like-minded stakeholders such as PETCo in helping the country achieve the much desired recycling rate of 35% from the current 10% as a country.

Our mission is to create a circular economy and sustainable environment through recycling.


  • Better linkage: KAWR is the first stop for the government and other stakeholders when they want to engage with recyclers. In future, members may be the first to get consideration in case of selective recycling opportunities from local and national goverments.
  • Building network: A member is able to link up and share ideas with with over 400 other recyclers hence easier access to raw materials and market for materials collected.
  • Advocacy: KAWR is the leading voice on behalf of recyclers at the national and local levels on legislative and regulatory issues with an aim of improving business climate for recyclers. This gives a member a better representation and sense of belonging.
  • Access to information: membership organizations are a source of latest news on rec樂威壯
    ycling trends, market changes hence be able to make informed decisions in time.
  • Getting discounts and support: KAWR members enjoys discounted rates from appointed bodies in areas such as EIA and Audit as a step towards regulatory compliance.
  • Training and recycling advice: members are able to get frequent training on what can be recycled, how to process the material and where the market exists for different materials in an ever-changing recycling environment