Kenya: Waste recycling experts

In Nairobi, huge quantities of waste are endangering residents' health and their natural environment. With German support, one company is now recycling the waste it collects.

Orange vehicles and overalls: When you're out and about in Nairobi, there's no mistaking the recycling company TakaTaka Solutions. Nairobi's seven million inhabitants produce more than 3,000 tonnes of waste a day. Lots of it ends up on the side of the road, in rivers or is burned. When it is collected, the waste is taken to one of the city’s ever growing landfills. Waste not only dominates the streetscape, but poses a threat to the environment and people's health. 

TakaTaka, which is the Swahili word for waste, has opted to take a different approach than other waste disposal enterprises in Nairobi and has developed a system for recycling waste. The company's 200 or so staff – most of them women – sort all incoming waste into roughly 50 different categories that are then passed on to recyclers. Organic waste accounts for around two thirds and is used directly as animal feed or composted for use as fertilizer. An impressive 95 per cent of the 40 tonnes of rubbish TakaTaka collects each day gets recycled in this way. This figure is unparalleled in the Kenyan waste management sector. 

TakaTaka receives support through the ExperTS Programme, which places experts with the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK) on behalf of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, they help companies grow their business. This is also the case in Nairobi, where the AHK has set up a competence centre for the environment. At the centre, TakaTaka received advice and forged contacts with new business partners, including a hotel chain that now counts as one of its customers. Not least thanks to these new contacts, TakaTaka has been able to recycle an additional 50 tonnes of waste every month since 2017. And the environment is benefiting too: recycling saves energy and resources, which translates into a reduction of around 84,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. That’s equivalent to the annual CO2 consumption of around 1,000 people in Germany. 

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