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Finding effective solutions for solid waste management is a big challenge for countries all over the world, and an even bigger one for developing countries where there are often huge operational challenges in addition to less resources available and fast-growing populations.

Fortunately, community-lead organisations are stepping up to the plate to find solutions. One such initiative is Kwale Plastics Plus Collectors (KPPC), a social enterprise which has already achieved a lot in its first year in operation. They are tackling some of the coast's biggest challenges by providing much needed segregated waste collection services both directly and indirectly to businesses, residents and tourist establishments within Kwale County. This waste is then moved to their recycling facilities for processing – a sustainable way to help preserve this beautiful area for generations to come.

In Kenya, as in many countries, most waste is at best sent to huge and unsustainable landfill sites and at worst disposed of informally, which essentially means left on the roadside or in other public spaces or burnt. Landfill rubbish releases harmful toxins into the surrounding soil and water tables, whilst uncollected waste has huge negative impacts on Kenya's amazing wildlife and marine ecosystems – with way too much plastic ending up in waterways and the sea.


Globally, the UN estimates that less than 10% of all the plastic ever made has been recycled – which not only contributes massively to waste management challenges but also represents a huge waste of valuable resources. KPPC is simultaneously meeting both these challenges by providing recycling facilities and making sure all waste collected is given a second lease of life. KPPC is working towards the development of a 'closed-loop' economy where materials are segregated at collection point, and then recycled and reused as much as possible.

To date KPPC have 28 Green Stations, 1 Depot and 14 staff members and continue to grow. Their Green Stations are located at convenient locations to enable maximum usage. All collection points have 4 separated bins, for plastics, metals, paper and glass respectively. All users need to do when using the Greens Stations is to ensure their waste is rinsed and free of organic materials before being dropped off, and crushed if possible to maximise space.


To get the project off the ground, KPPC has built strong partnerships with other like-minded organisations. In late 2017, KPPC started life as a social enterprise registered under the community-based organization, Friends of Kwale Water Rescue, and by early 2018 they joined forces with the founders of the #plasticrevolution movement and their amazing Flipflopi Dhow Expedition. So far, to cover all start-up costs, KPPC has relied on the willingness and generous funding and sponsorship support from local businesses, organisations and individuals.

Since April 2018 KPPC entered into a public private partnership with Kwale County. This official endorsement means they can scale up their recycling programme county-wide and make use of public land for their 'Green Station' collection points – even though more funds still need to be raised to make this happen.


The KPPC team have been working hard to develop plans with the aim of achieving financial sustainability by year 3. Currently, the collected waste is sorted and processed and then sold on to other recycling bodies to be given a second lease of life. Next year, there are plans to establish a partner company that will buy the prepared waste from KPPC and transform it into eco-building materials for use in housing, schools, clinics and road construction. As KPPC's main buyer, this state-of-the- art recycling factory will help secure KPPC's long-term financial sustainability.


Also essential for KPPC's success is buy in by businesses, residents and

tourists. Indeed, the Green Stations need to be well used in order for KPPC to contribute to waste management in a meaningful way and have enough recycled materials to sustain operations. Awareness-raising campaigns are part of KPPC's business plan, however, and community engagement forms an important part KPPC's business model.


Indeed, beyond KPPC's primary role of removing plastics and other pollutants from Kwale County's land, drains, rivers and award-winning Indian Ocean beaches so that they can be reused, the initiative has many other important livelihood benefits, including job creation and community empowerment and education.


One of KPPC's goals is to enable and inspire women and men to become knowledgeable and capable community change champions. Beginning at household and community levels, these champions will help solve the problem plastic pollution by boosting 'closed-loop' waste collection and recycling practices and educating others to do the same.


There are also exciting plans to partner with environmental

education organisations to reach out to schools and women's groups and the like to teach them about segregated waste management and recycling. This will be done at the recycling centre during interactive tours, so that members of the community can see for themselves how it all works and the impact it is having.


“When we started KPPC, some people told us we were fools for thinking people would change their littering and illegal dumping behaviours,” KPPC founders Daniele Sardelli and Susan Scull-Carvalho told Coastal Guide. “Instead, we've experienced the opposite. Many, many community members have thanked us for offering them a decent place to dispose of their household and business waste—and they're helping us protect our Green Stations too!”


The scale of KPPC's impact will become fully visible over the years to come, but for the time-being it is so encouraging to see community-lead organisations working in partnership to tackle some of Kwale County's biggest challenges. Now, businesses, residents and tourists also need to step up to the plate and ensure they support and fully use these great new facilities to the benefit of us all.


To get involved or for more information, contact: kwaleplasticsplus@gmail.com


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