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Kenyan manufacturers launch plastic bottle recycling initiative

Gordon Ogembo, Sales Executive at Brush Manufacturers Ltd. (second right) shows businessman Kimani Rugendo (center) a sample of products made using recycled PET Bottles at an exhibition stand during the World Environment Day in Kwale County

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 6 – Manufacturers in Kenya have teamed up to form an organization that will coordinate initiatives to collect, sort and recycle PET bottles and containers, in a move that is a significant boost to environmental conservation efforts in the country.

PET Recycling Company Ltd (PETCO Kenya), launched on the sidelines of the events to mark the 2018 World Environment Day celebrations, is the culmination of private sector engagements to introduce a sustainable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) industry value chain that will ensure that the environment remains clean while providing employment for thousands in the recycling value chain..

PETCO will focus on the sustainable management PET material after their initial use, and has already partnered with recyclers who are already coming up with new products out of disposed PET material. Each of these companies represented in PETCO Kenya will contribute an extended producer responsibility (EPR) fee that will be used to generate subsidies for recyclers in Kenya.

“Tonnes of PET are sold annually in Kenya, and used to make beverage, food and other packaging material. There is a strong case in favour of recycling since polyethylene terephthalate has fully recyclable synthetic fibres, with polymer chains can be recovered for use in the manufacture of new products,” said John Waithaka, the Chairman of PETCO Kenya during the launch.

He said, “Although recycling activities throughout the industry have been taking place on a modest level for some years, PETCO Kenya’s represents the plastic industry’s first joint effort to self-regulate and create a sustainable approach to PET management. A Board of Directors made up of representatives from all sectors, which make up the PET value chain, will oversee the organisation’s activities.”

The local plastics industry currently imports 20,000 tonnes of PET annually and is estimated to grow at a rate of 10pc each year. The industry is currently achieving a recovery and recycling target of just around 5pc of what is consumed. PETCO Kenya aims to achieve recovery and recycling rate of 25pc in 2018 and 70pc by 2030.

PETCO Kenya is based on the successful global models of voluntary extended producer responsibility, which has seen the collection and recycling of PET in the country grow significantly years, while minimising the waste stream and benefitting the environment.

For instance, through the efforts of PET Recycling Company (PETCO), which Coca-Cola helped to set up, more than two billion PET bottles were collected and recycled in South Africa in 2017. This equates to a 65pc percent – rates close to European rates and that exceed United States recycling rates by more than 20pc.

PETCO in South Africa also helped to secure investment for two world-class recycling facilities that create bottles out of recycled PET for use in the beverage industry.

These facilities create recycled PET for the beverage industry to use in the manufacturing of their bottles. This has resulted in an estimated 288,000m3 of landfill space saved and more than 1,500 new income opportunities have been created through these two investments.

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