Plastic has become the most common material since the beginning of the 20th century and modern life is unthinkable without it. Unfortunately, what makes it so useful, such as its durability, light weight and low cost, also makes it problematic when it comes to its end of life phase due to its non-biodegradable nature.

In Kenya, over 24 million plastic bags are used monthly, half of which end up in the solid waste mainstream. Plastic bags now constitute the biggest challenge to solid waste management in the country.

Plastic bags and climate change are linked in a variety of ways. From air quality to ocean toxicity, plastic bags contribute to eco-system disruption. Even worse, plastic is poisonous. Some of its ingredients such as biosphenol-A and Phthalates have been proved to cause cancer, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments. Additionally, plastic threatens wildlife and is a pollutant of groundwater. Cases of groundwater pollution due to landfills have been reported worldwide, and toxic leachates from landfills are among the major groundwater quality risks, according to the International Association of Hydrological Sciences.

“The plastic bags we have in Kenya are so flimsy that millions of them only get used once before being thrown away, you see them in the trees, in the hedges and on the ground. And when they settle on the ground, they collect small pools of stagnant water, in which mosquitos breed.” Professor Wangari Maathai

In 2006, a comprehensive plastic waste management strategy for Nairobi, Kenya was developed. The functionality of this scheme needed rising mass awareness, serious consultation, attractive incentives, heavy penalties on the offenders and community participation and interaction.

Ten years down the line, nothing much has been done and now, plastic waste is no longer an urban issue, it is an environmental problem throughout the country.

To deal with this menace, both the top-down and bottom-up approaches should be used. There is need to create a mechanism for grassroots communities to engage in consultations and training to enable sound management of plastic waste. Strengthening and implementation of policies is also key and all the stakeholders should be committed to dealing with this problem.

The Green Belt movement has realized that a bottom-up approach to environmental education, with respect to plastic waste management, is vital. This will not only change their attitude towards living in a clean and safe environment but also empower them to better manage their household waste. In this bottom-up approach, the community groups will be trained, at the grassroots level, on the effects of plastic waste.They will have the knowledge to separate their waste at household level and to reduce and reuse plastic bags. By so doing, the problem will have been solved by half.

What if the over 4000 GBM community groups understood the effect of plastic waste and took initiative to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags?

 

Source; http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/node/772

Solid waste management is Nairobi’s most visible environmental challenge. Rubbish heaps piled high with paper, plastics and other waste are an everyday feature of the city’s landscape. Dirty, torn plastic bags are seen wedged stubbornly into roadside features such as drainage, pavements and shrubbery in poor and more affluent areas alike.

With a growing population, Nairobi’s annual waste production of 3,121 tonnes is set to more than double by 2030, the year by which Kenya is supposed to be a middle-income country, consuming more and therefore generating more waste.

As it stands, only about 27% of the solid waste generated daily makes it to the Dandora dumpsite, the city’s only official dumpsite, which has been declared a health hazard to the neighboring community. With only 5% of waste recycled, these numbers mean that a staggering 68% of the city’s daily waste is improperly disposed. This would explain the multiple mini-dumpsites found along the city’s roads and in open spaces.

To address the present and future waste management challenge, the former City Council of Nairobi in collaboration with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), developed the 2010 Nairobi Solid Waste Management Plan. The plan includes decommissioning the Dandora dumpsite and creating a landfill for Nairobi.

But landfills are not environmentally friendly. For example, plastics can take up to 1,000 years to degrade when stuffed into landfills and release toxins as they decompose.

The 2010 Plan recommended that recycling and composting would be realistic, cost-effective complements to a landfill. Much waste could be disposed of this way since 65% of Nairobi’s waste is bio-waste while the next largest group is plastics, which constitute 12% of waste.

Nairobi already has a vibrant recycling economy, albeit at a small-scale level, which could be built up to support the plan’s recommendations.

While many Nairobians understand the long-term ramifications of improper solid waste management to the environment, recycling has not caught on, particularly in middle- and high-income areas where recycled products generate income proportionately too minimal to consider pursuing seriously. These income groups already consume more and, therefore, generate proportionally more waste. Changing behavioral habits of these groups will be instrumental to the success of recycling efforts in Nairobi.

 

Source; https://www.urbanafrica.net/news/can-recycling-help-nairobi-cut-its-waste/

Basically paper is made from cellulose fibers derived from plants. Cellulose consists of glucose chains which form the building block for most plant materials. The fibre in both wood, grass and other fibrous plants such as hyacinth weed is made of cellulose. These fibers are bound together to form parenchyma (are thin-walled cells that make up the inside of many non-woody plant structures including stems, roots, and leaves) and sclerenchyma cells (in woody plants bound together by lignin). In function cellulose gives wood its strength, while lignin gives it rigidity (stiffness). Pure cellulose is white, while lignin is dark brown or black

To make paper a form paper, cellulose is separated from lignin and a mixture of sugars called hemicelluloses and other minor chemical components. This separation can be accomplished mechanically or chemically in a process called pulping.

In mechanical process, solid wood is steamed and ground into fine fibers which are laterpassed through chemical bleaching process to produce (Semi-mechanical chemical pulp) such as the one used to produce newsprint paper grade.

In chemical process, small pieces of chipped wood is cooked under high temperature and pressure in either acid (sulphite pulping) or alkali (sulphate pulping) to dissolve lignin which is later extracted through washing process. At this stage the pulp (raw paper) is brown in color and it is thereafter bleached to make it white. Packaging paper is almost never bleached, the reason cartons are brown in color(Kraft grade).

To make it white and depending on the whiteness level required, the resultant pulp mixture is passed through different chemical bleaching methods. While bleaching improves the quality of paper, it also weakens the paper. For instance, if you bleach strongly to remove as much lignin as possible, the fibresbecomes weak. If you leave some lignin, such as case of newsprint, the paper ages faster due to reverse oxidation. The acidic compounds retained on the material during pulping causes a catalytic reaction that activates the hydrolytic decomposition (degradation) of cellulose

However, it is impossible to remove all the lignin. Lignin slowly oxidises and turns paper brown or yellowish. For high quality wood paper, acid pulping is used, but this method is also more polluting.

Pulp from hardwoods (broadleaved species) consists of shorter fibres which are stiffer and is often used for low grade paper like cartons. Softwood (needle-leaved) species have longer fiber which makes it more flexible.

Summary

Stage 1: Chipping/breaking down. – Breaking down wood and other cellulose material into smaller pieces for easier processing.

Step 2: Beating/cooking– Mechanical process of individualizing cellulose fibers and remover of lignin (binding material)

Step 3: Bleaching – Whitening using bleaching chemicals

Step 4: Formation– spreading of pulp slurry of fibers in a fast moving mat to form a sheet of paper

Step 5: Drying – Pressing paper mat between rollers to remove water hence reducing moisture content from 80-5%

Step 6: Conversion– Reducing the size of ready paper to usable sizes.

You may have a box of things you keep that are broken or that you don’t have a use for that you hang on to in-case you find another use for them; or you may find bargains on old furniture or go trash picking and get things that you can refinish – in either case you are working towards reusing the item. Learning to reuse items, or re-purpose them for a use different then what they are intended for is essential in waste hierarchy.

One of the best examples for how this is being done today is the modular construction of homes and office buildings that is being created out of discarded shipping containers. These large, semi-truck sized metal containers represent a huge waste problem. Repurposing them as homes and offices saves them from the landfills and doesn’t require the additional expenditure of nature resources to melt down and reconfigure the metals used to create them.

 

Post Source: www.conserve-energy-future.com/reduce-reuse-recycle.php

The last stage of the waste hierarchy is to recycle. To recycle something means that it will be transformed again into a raw material that can be shaped into a new item. There are very few materials on the earth that cannot be recycled. One of the issues facing communities that want to become more involved with a recycling effort is that while the relying collection and sorting process may be affordable to implement, there still has to be a facility to receive and transform the discarded waste into a raw material. More progress is being made toward uniting recycling plants with industries that can process the waste material through agreements and incentive credits.

One need to learn as to what products can be recycled and what not. By carefully choosing the products that can be recycled, can be a first step towards efficient recycling.

1. Buy products from market that are made up of recycled materials i.e. the product should be environment friendly.

2. Buy products that can be recycled such as glass jars.

3. Invent new ways to recycle different items.

4. Avoid buying hazardous materials that could pose difficulty for you to recycle. Buy non-toxic products, whenever possible.

5. Buy products that have been made from recycled material.

6. Use recycled paper for printing or making paper handicrafts.

Post Source: www.conserve-energy-future.com/reduce-reuse-recycle.php

The concept of reducing what is produced and what is consumed is essential to the waste hierarchy. The logic behind it is simple to understand – if there is less waste, then there is less to recycle or reuse. The process of reducing begins with an examination of what you are using, and what it is used for. There are three simple steps to assessing the reduction value of an item or process –

  • Is there something else that can be used for this purpose? Using multi-use items is essential to beginning reduction. One example would be a coffeepot and a cappuccino maker. Both of them do distinctly different things, but you can buy a coffeepot that has a steaming attachment on it so it can do both. The purchase of the one item means that you don’t use two. It reduces the amount of production, and the amount of waste packaging material that will be generated.
  • Is this something that needs to be done? A lot of our waste material comes from items that are considered to be “disposable.” Not in the sense that you use something once and then throw it away, that can actually be a part of environmental responsibility when you are working with medical items – disposable in this sense means whether or not what the item allows you to do has any real meaning or purpose.
  • Is the item a part of something that you need to do, or want to do in your life? There is a limit to what you need to be prepared for in life. Chances are you won’t need a car that is equipped to handle a sandstorm in the desert. Buying one encourages production, wastes your resources and creates more generative waste than you can imagine. Always make sure that what you consume, or keep in your life as preparation – matches the reality of potential opportunity in your life.

Here are some of things you can do to reduce the waste:

1. Print on both sides of the paper to reduce paper wastage.

2. Use electronic mail to reach out to people instead of sending paper mail.

3. Remove your name from the mailing lists that you no longer want to receive.

4. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.

5. Avoid using disposable plates, spoons, glass, cups and napkins. They add to the problem and result in large amount of waste.

6. Avoid buying items that are over-packaged with foil, paper, and plastic. This excess packaging goes to waste.

7. Buy durable goods that have long warranty. They generally run longer and save landfill space.

Number 3 deals with the problems created by living within a culture of consumerism. This type of consumption driven culture also makes fulfilling the second “R” difficult, but it is getting easier to do.

You may either reuse those items for your own use or donate so that others can use them. You can reuse below items like:

1. Old jars and pots: Old jars and pots can be used to store items in kitchen. They can also be used to store loose items together such as computer wires.

2. Tyres: Old tyres can either be sent to recycling station or can be used to make tyre-swing.

3. Used wood: Used wood can be used as firewood or can be used woodcrafts.

4. Newspaper: Old newspapers can be used to pack items when you’re planning to move to another home or store old items.

5. Envelopes: Old and waste envelopes can be used by children to make short notes.

6. Waste paper: Waste paper can be used to make notes and sketches and can be send to recycling center when you don’t need them anymore.

Items that can be donated to others include:

1. Old books: Your old books can be used by poor children or can be donated to public libraries.

2. Old clothes: Your unwanted clothes can be used by street children or can be donated to charity institutions.

3. Old electric equipment: Old electric equipment can be donated to schools or NGO’s so that they can use them.

4. Rechargeable batteries: Rechargeable batteries can be used again and again and helps to reduce unnecessary wastage as opposed to regular batteries.

Apart from this, you can build a compost bin and reuse many waste items like used tea bags. The waste then degrades and turns into compost that help your plants grow and shine.

 

Post Source: www.conserve-energy-future.com/reduce-reuse-recycle.php

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