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