Statement from James Wakibia on Launch of 2021 PET Rubbish Report

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Plastic pollution is not a consumer problem; it is a producer problem. The Plastic Industry has been very efficient at perpetuating a flawed narrative blaming the consumers for the plastic pollution problem and running away from responsibility.

If we are to effectively address the problem of plastic pollution, we must first acknowledge that it’s those that produce it that must take full blame. We cannot continue beating around the bush and pretending we do not know the source of our biggest environmental problem. It is a product of the petrochemical industry.

These industries realizing that the world is moving away from oil for its transport needs has decided to not only double but triple its production of unsustainable and environmentally harming plastics; most whose use is barely 5 minutes. We must demand better for our planet. We cannot just sit and watch a few companies destroying our environment.

We demand that these industries must redesign their products to have a lower or zero environmental impact, it’s possible, it’s a matter of whether they are concerned or not. Making profits doesn’t always have to cause problems to the environment.

We demand that plastic companies do more to ensure that the end of life of their plastics does not cause the ending of life of other living beings. This they can do through partnering with environmental organizations and communities to remove plastics already in the environment and through continuous public awareness programs on proper waste disposal. Plastic companies need to also work closely and support efforts that promote circular economy to give value to recyclable plastics.

We demand for more government regulation to compel plastic companies to be more responsible for their products. This can be done through policies such as extended producer responsibility to make each and every individual company profiting from plastics to belong to a producer responsibility organization whose mandate is to control plastic waste leakage and supporting circular economy. If they cannot toe the line, such plastics should be phased out!.

We request the government to enact legislation on Bottle Deposit and Return Scheme. Through this scheme plastic bottles, a majority that ends up in our water bodies can get to a recycling facility. It is sad that the drivers of recycling, the waste pickers are an extorted lot, they work long hours in difficult conditions only to be paid peanuts. A bottle deposit scheme will give that plastic bottle a value and people will make decent earning from their sweat.

We demand the government passes necessary policies on waste segregation from the source. It is only through efficient waste segregation and proper investment in solid waste infrastructure that will ensure waste is not contaminated and can be put back to circular economy. 

Of most importance is that we must all work together to stop plastic pollution. I am very happy with the work Clean Up Kenya, Nairobi Recyclers, and Changing Markets Foundation are doing at exposing the real polluters of our environment. Through their report, I hope more action will follow to curb plastic pollution.

 It pains me to see our nature polluted with plastics, that shouldn’t be the case.

Less plastic is fantastic.

JAMES WAKIBIA

ABOUT CLEAN UP KENYA

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.

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