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Growing ambitions for circular economy in East Africa

A legislative change based on good public-private dialogue has created the right framework conditions to turbocharge plastic collection and expand the concept to other materials and to Kenya's neighbouring countries.

Following the successful launch of the Kenyan producer responsibility organisation KEPRO in 2020, East Africa's business community is increasing its ambitions.

9,000 tons of plastic recycled 

KEPRO was created in collaboration between the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and their members with support from the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Plastics Federation.

The organization collects taxes from plastic producers and pays them to waste pickers in order to create a circular economy for plastic waste that reduces pollution and creates more decent jobs.

With its 640 paying member companies, KEPRO has secured the recycling of 9,000 tonnes of plastic. The organisation’s goal is to increase recycling by 20% every quarter until 30% of the country's plastic waste is recycled. And now KEPRO is expanding its target to include packaging of paper, cardboard, glass, aluminium and composite materials.  

New framework conditions are accelerating development.

KEPRO is organised by the private sector but works closely with the Kenyan authorities.

In 2023, the good public-private dialogue has resulted in a new Kenyan law. It requires companies that ship packaging to the Kenyan market to be paying members of a producer responsibility organisation, or alternatively prove on their own how to collect and recycle their packaging.

The new law will streamline the framework conditions for all actors in the entire value chain – from those who collect waste to those who turn it into new products.

The Kenyan experience has caused a stir throughout the region. DI and KAM are now working to export the model to Tanzania and Uganda, which have already established producer responsibility organisations within PET and other types of plastic.

Recently, KEPRO held its first annual packaging conference, bringing together plastics players from all over East Africa.

One of the participants was Nicholaus Jackson Ambwene, Country Coordinator at PETpro, a producer responsibility organisation in Tanzania:   "East Africa must be united. Kenya has taken the lead and we must not be left behind. The rest of the region needs the obligation to recycle packaging to pass from the individual manufacturer to an organisation, just as KEPRO has ensured."