HEALTH: NEMA issues yellow bin directive to counties

Tetra Pak Marketing Director Jackline Arao (centre), NEMA Director General Mamo Boru (left) and Friends of Oloolua Forest (FOF) Chair Mwai Wa Kihu (right) plant a tree at Oloolua Forest during the October 19, 2021 tree-planting event. The exercise was part of Tetrapak's recycling campaign dubbed "Go Nature, Go Carton". PHOTO/Aggrey Omboki, The Scholar Media Africa.

The National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) has asked county governments to provide yellow coded bins for the safe disposal of COVID-19 related waste.

According to NEMA director general Mamo Boru, the yellow coded containers will make the virus-related waste easier to identify for safe disposal.

Speaking at a tree planting exercise sponsored by Tetra Pak at Ololua Forest on October 19, 2021, Mr Boru said the agency has issued guidelines on the on the disposal of COVID-19 waste.

“When you go around, it is very unfortunate to see used masks left lying around. This type of waste is very dangerous and once you release it into the environment, you are essentially spreading the virus,” said Mr Boru

He added that the guidelines had been shared with the county governments.

“We have produced and sent these safe COVID-19 waste disposal guidelines to the directors of public health in all the 47 counties. This is because the unsafe disposal of this type of waste can lead to community transmissions,” the Nema boss said.

“We have asked the county governments through the public health departments, to provide yellow coded bins to ensure the safe and sustainable disposal of used COVID-19 materials. This will enable such waste to be taken to the nearest facility, or Level 5 and 6 hospitals for incineration,” he said.

Mr Boru said Nema was collaborating with the ministry of health in the Covid waste management effort.

“We are working closely with the ministry of health to ensure that the waste including used masks, gloves and test kits is properly managed,” he said.

Tetra Pak marketing director Ms Jackline Arao appealed to Kenyan parents to spread and emphasize the message of safe waste disposal at home. 

“Let us talk our children and other family members on how to safely dispose of these used masks. Please collect and sort the waste according to type for proper disposal and recycling where possible” said Ms Arao.

Echoing her call, Mr Boru asked families not to lump all the domestic waste together.

“Do not mix all your waste together at household level, because the COVID-related waste can lead to community transmissions if not properly managed,” he said. 

Mr Boru said Nema is working with the ministry of education to include environmental conservation in the school curriculum.

“We are at an advanced stage of plans to include conservation in the education system. We have called this initiative ‘greening the curriculum’ and expect it to play a major role in changing the young people’s attitudes towards the environment,” he said.

Globally, human activity produces 2 billion of waste each year. By 2050, it is estimated that the waste levels will have risen by 70 percent.

Ms Arao said the firm is working with stakeholders including malls and other commercial establishments to ensure the waste is correctly sorted and collected.

“We are working to expand and strengthen collection systems by actively engaging with stakeholders such as retailers, waste management companies and policymakers to overcome challenges in local recycling processes,” she said.    

Tetrapak also hosted the event to shine the spotlight on an ongoing campaign to plant 1 million trees in an effort to restore lost tree cover in the forest that covers 1,633 hectares.

Through the tree planting gesture, the packaging giant hopes to create awareness on the need to conserve the environment.

The firm is involved in a conservation program at the forest and tourist attraction which is managed by the National Museums of Kenya.

Its conservation campaign is also backed by Friends of Oloolua Forest (FOF), the Olololua Forest Association, a community initiative made up of residents living around the sprawling green complex.

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