Assessing Kenya's readiness for plastic exchange

Plastic bottles

The initiative targets to tackle plastic waste and reduce pollution that ends up into the marine environment.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

 Plastic pollution has become a global crisis, with devastating impacts on our environment and human health. As nations strive to address this issue, innovative solutions are emerging, such as plastic exchanges and the concept of plastic credits. In Kenya, a country known for its commitment to environmental conservation, the question arises: Is Kenya ready for a plastic exchange, and should it prioritise carbon credits or plastic credits?

Kenya has demonstrated its environmental stewardship through initiatives like the ban on single-use plastic bags. However, the problem persists as other plastic items continue to contribute to pollution. To tackle this issue comprehensively, the country needs a multi-pronged approach that includes not only strict regulations but also market-based mechanisms.

One such mechanism is a plastic exchange, a platform that enables the trading of plastic credits. Plastic credits operate similarly to carbon credits, which incentivise industries to reduce their carbon emissions. In the context of plastic pollution, plastic credits would reward businesses and organisations that actively reduce, recycle, or properly dispose of plastic waste.

The introduction of a plastic exchange in Kenya could have several positive impacts. Firstly, it would create economic incentives for companies to adopt sustainable practices. By rewarding those who effectively manage their plastic waste, the exchange would encourage businesses to invest in recycling infrastructure, waste reduction strategies, and sustainable packaging alternatives.

This, in turn, would drive innovation, create green jobs, and stimulate economic growth in the circular economy sector.

Secondly, a plastic exchange would promote transparency and accountability. By establishing a standardised measurement system for plastic waste management, the exchange would facilitate the monitoring and reporting of progress. It would enable stakeholders to track the impact of their actions and make informed decisions based on accurate data. This transparency would also enhance public trust and allow consumers to support businesses that prioritize sustainability.

Now comes the question of whether Kenya should prioritise carbon credits or plastic credits. Both options have their merits, and a balanced approach would be most beneficial.

Carbon credits are already a well-established market, and Kenya has made significant strides in renewable energy, afforestation, and other climate change mitigation efforts. Continuing to prioritise carbon credits would allow the country to build on these achievements and attract international investments in clean technologies.

On the other hand, plastic pollution poses a direct threat to Kenya's unique ecosystems, including its beautiful coastlines and diverse wildlife. Plastic credits would offer a targeted approach to tackling this specific issue.

 By focusing on plastic waste reduction, recycling, and proper disposal, Kenya could become a global leader in combating plastic pollution, showcasing its commitment to environmental conservation.

To successfully implement a plastic exchange, Kenya must overcome certain challenges. These include establishing a robust regulatory framework, creating an efficient credit verification system, and building strong partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Additionally, public awareness campaigns and educational programs are crucial to mobilise individuals and communities, fostering a culture of responsible plastic waste management.

Kenya's readiness for a plastic exchange is evident in its track record of environmental initiatives. Embracing this innovative mechanism would strengthen the country's commitment to sustainability and provide economic incentives for businesses to adopt greener practices.

To maximise impact, a balanced approach that considers both carbon credits and plastic credits should be pursued. By doing so, Kenya can position itself as a global pioneer in addressing the plastic pollution crisis.

The writer is Senior Officer Corporate Affairs and Investor relations – NSE