First national pollution brand audit report to be launched in Kenya

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On Friday the 27th of August 2021, Clean Up Kenya in partnership with Nairobi Recyclers will launch the 2021 Kenya PET Rubbish Report at Shalom House, Nairobi, in Dagoretti South Constituency.

This report is the first national brand audit report done in the country. The report focuses on the plastic material chemically known as polyethylene terephthalate and often abbreviated as PET. This material is the one used to traditionally package soft drinks, juices, and water.

Audits for identifying polluting brands is a growing science all over the world. These audits mostly focus on plastics because of their pervasive presence and their well-documented effects on the environment.

This report was physically conducted in six counties, namely, Nairobi, Kajiado, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu, Mombasa, and Kilifi. More data was collected nationally through citizen science, where members of the public submitted random pictures which were published online on dedicated social media platforms on Instagram and Facebook, with this being later audited. Those who submitted the data were not informed about the purpose of their submission to keep the data credible.

Over 10,000 pieces of PET bottles were audited over a period of five months.

While this brand audit report has some limitations, it is very credible as the trends from different cluster areas reveal.

Our purpose in conducting this research is twofold:

The first objective is to increase visibility on the issue of pollution caused by plastic bottles and interest the media to highlight this issue. Some other emerging issues related to plastics include low pay for Kenyan waste pickers, despite billions of shillings being committed by the polluters to recover plastics from the environment. Kenya’s waste pickers are responsible for the recovery of over 90 percent of plastics from the environment. There are also rampant cases of child labor in recycling in Kenya as our data collectors found out. This report, therefore, provides another opportunity for dialogue on these issues.

The second objective is to inspire more sustainable interventions from all stakeholders, particularly government and industry.

We are aware that there are advanced efforts to have Kenya adopt a mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility law. While this is welcome, we recommend that Deposit Return Scheme become a base for this law. Under such a scheme, consumers will be required to make a ‘returnable deposit’ for PET packaging in the same way this is done for beer glass bottles. This will ensure that all plastic packaging is recovered from the environment without contamination to enable more recycling.

The current model used by the industry of providing subsidies to increase collection has largely failed to solve this problem. This is because the subsidies go to the big player recyclers, who themselves do little in the collection. In Eldoret, for example, a waste picker – the majority of whom are children – earns a meager 4 Kenya Shillings per kilo of PET collected while a subsidy partner for polluters gets 25 Kenya Shillings.

We do not believe then, that the EPR law as being proposed will solve these issues unless Deposit Return Scheme is made the primary base for producer responsibility. Therefore as we launch this report, we are also launching a campaign to increase more awareness of the Deposit Return Scheme.

To receive this report or attend the in-person launch, kindly email


Established in 2015, Clean Up Kenya is a national advocacy organization working to hold to account government duty bodies, state officers, corporations, green-washing Non-Governmental Organizations, and domestic and commercial polluters for Kenya’s public sanitation crisis. We primarily work with communities to advance their rights to sustainable public sanitation. As experts in community mobilizing for cleanups, we have conducted numerous projects across the country with some being attended by over 1000 volunteers. At the core of our work is honest and actual involvement in communities – not PR events. We receive no funding for our work but collaborate with other like-minded organizations both nationally and internationally on projects.