The need for a circular economy is born from a promising opportunity for economic development, value creation, and skills development. The circular economy promotes the conservation of finite resources while preserving the environment. It also presents opportunities for job creation and the building of new enterprises. For African countries, circular solutions can be leveraged to meet various climate action obligations and sustainable development goals.
From April 22nd to 29th, 2022, the ICCF Group in partnership with Wilderness Foundation Africa facilitated a field visit for seven Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Republic of South Africa, who are part of the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, to Kenya. The goal of this exchange was to share challenges and best practices in reaching targets for a circular economy within the countries and for Kenyan representatives to share and highlight national achievements in combating plastic waste.
The delegation was headed by Chairperson Azwihangwisi Faith Muthambi and included Hon. Bantubonke Harrington Holomisa, Hon. Narend Singh, Hon. Mogamad Nazier Paulsen, Hon. David William Bryant, Hon. Cheryl Phillips, and Hon. Nqabisa Gantsho.
On April 25th the MPs visited Anjarwalla & Khanna | ALN (Africa Legal Network - Kenya) where they were briefed on a comprehensive report on a proposed bill on single-use plastics (SUPs) for the East African Community (EAC) - which comprises the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republics of Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda - and how a similar approach to combatting SUPs could be replicated in South Africa. The report highlighted legislative and regulatory frameworks that have been adopted within the EAC, the process and progression of laws across each country, the successes, challenges, and lessons learned, and an overview of other regional and global regulations and treaties.
The delegation was also briefed by the Flipflopi project’s Mr. Dipesh Pabari; Flipflopi has been building a movement to combat SUPs through their innovative and community-based approach, inspiring local solutions for a global issue. Flipflopi operates on a mission to end SUPs and to lead a plastic-reuse revolution through education, sailing expeditions, positive storytelling, and campaigns, having been recognized for making the first sailing dhow using recycled materials.
In the evening, the MPs met with representatives from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), the Sustainable Inclusive Business-Kenya (SIB-K) and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers. Discussions were centered on the challenges and successes in bringing together the business community, government and the informal sector to move towards a circular economy for plastic. Critically, the MPs enquired about the transition to a circular mode of production and how alternative models were established which balance environmental and economic needs.
On April 26th the delegation visited the Dandora Dump Site, Vintz Plastics, and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Centre. The dump site is one of the main sources of plastics and used electronics which are diverted from landfill by nearby residents who source their income from separating the waste, thus showing the beginning stages of the circularity of the value chain. Afterwards, the delegation headed to Vintz Plastics, a recycling company, and Green Pavers, a social enterprise, focused on developing viable sustainable solutions in the circular economy through recycling and waste management. At WEEE Centre, the delegation was taken through the offered services of safe disposal of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), secure data destruction, and detailed presentations of programs focused on training and awareness creation on safe and circular e-waste management. The WEEE Centre is a social enterprise which seeks to protect the environment and public health and promote national development, exploring opportunities for Kenya’s youth while contributing to environmental sustainability.
In the evening, MPs met with Hon. Francis Chachu Ganya (Parliamentary Conservation Caucus-Kenya), Dr Erustus Kanga (Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife), and Mr Titus Simiyu (National Environmental Management Authority) to gain insight into Kenya’s advanced approach to creating an enabling environment for plastics legislation and enforcement, and to discuss the synergies between our two countries.
On April 27th the delegation visited the Circular Innovation Hub - a hub that fosters innovation in the circular economy space through programs, training, and concept tackling for businesses and young innovators. The MPs got an opportunity to meet a newly graduated cohort of entrepreneurs, who pitched their business ideas and the role their business models would play in promoting a circular economy. The entrepreneurs emphasized the role of legislators in creating an enabling environment for circular solutions across Africa.
The visit culminated in the MPs deciding to join the ICCF Group network of parliamentary conservation caucuses (forums) by forming the South African Legislators for the Environment (SALE) forum. As the founding Members of SALE, the seven MPs in attendance signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ICCF Group and Wilderness Foundation Africa formally agreeing to a partnership to work together on activities of mutual interest which will enhance the capacity of SALE to carry out their legislative mandate. The MPs selected Hon. Muthambi and Hon. Holomisa to serve as the first co-chairs of SALE, who will play a leading role in ensuring the success of the forum’s strategic direction and in meeting its objectives.