Now let’s do the math.
In 2019 Petco Kenya reported that 5,000 tons of PET bottles were recycled that year. This translates to 5,000,000 kilograms of plastic bottles. Since it takes 32 bottles to make 1 Kilo of PET, this means 160 million bottles were recycled in Kenya in 2019.
By their own admission, the subsidy program which PETCO Kenya runs together with their partners, has seen the price of 1 Kilo of PET bottles increase by 5 Kenya Shillings since the program was began. This means then, Petco Kenya spent 25 million Kenya Shillings to pay collectors for the 160 million bottles that were recycled in 2019.
The question is, where did the over 3.8 billion Kenya shillings that Coca-Cola released go? Never mind that Coca-Cola is not the only member of Petco Kenya and other consumer brands have also contributed to this subsidy program.
In the last few months we have spoken to women and children who predominantly work as informal plastic waste collectors and the reality on the ground will shock anyone. The price for the bottles has not increased for almost all of these ‘workers’ even despite Petco Kenya subsidy and the billions of shillings that have been poured into the program by the consumer brands. In some areas, pickers have to collect a staggering 1000 bottles to earn 100 Kenya shillings or 1 USD.
If Coca-Cola’s contribution of 3.82 billion was to directly be given to the pickers who collected the 160 million bottles in 2019, this would mean each bottle would fetch a staggering 20 Kenya shillings or 0.2 USD which is even higher than what is given back to consumers in Europe in countries that have implemented a Deposit Return Scheme, where a consumer returns the plastic bottle to the retailer for exchange of a cash deposit.
Even if we assume like the article from the Star states that the funds released by Coca-Cola were to be used for three years, it means only a meager less than 1 % of the funds benefited the waste pickers who are really the face of recycling in Kenya. Without these workers, there is no recycling to speak about in the country.
In a country where #Corruption, abuse of office and mismanagement are endemic, PETCO Kenya needs to come out clearly on this issue as a matter of public interest.
ABOUT CLEAN UP KENYA
Clean Up Kenya was established in 2015 to advocate for and promote sustainable public sanitation in Kenya. Since then we have become the de-facto national public sanitation advocacy brand. We are also experts in community mobilizing for cleanups. We have done numerous cleanups over the years, some of which have been attended by over 1000 volunteers on singular sites. At the core of our work is honest and actual engagement in communities – not PR events. We also run advocacy campaigns holding duty bodies, consumer brands, green-washing NGOs and other stakeholders to account for unsustainable public sanitation in Kenya and the global South. We receive no funding for our work but collaborate with others on projects.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Betterman Simidi Musasia
Founder & Patron, Clean Up Kenya
Betterman is a sustainable public sanitation advocate and a pollution control evangelist. In 2015, after becoming extremely tired of seeing all the trash in Kenyan neighborhoods and hearing the authorities fake promises to clear the mess, he sold his trucking business to establish Clean Up Kenya. Today, the organization is a leading national sustainable public sanitation advocacy brand. In September 2020, he stepped down as Clean Up Kenya Chief Executive Officer and currently serves as Founder and Patron.