Removing Waste Plastic from the Nairobi-Athi River System in Kenya

SVRG is carrying this project out jointly with our partners Chemolex in Kenya. This project is jointly funded by the Coca Cola Foundation and UCSB’s Benioff Ocean Initiative, as part of the Clean Currents Coalition.

The Athi is the second longest river in Kenya, flowing 390 km before entering the Indian Ocean. Flowing through Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, the Athi is relied on by millions of Kenyans for drinking water and irrigation.

River in Nairobi, Industrial Area

Despite Kenya’s 2020 ban on single use plastics, the Athi River receives large amounts of plastic and general pollution from Nairobi–an area with a population of over nine million people, since the city’s river systems are an all too convenient dumping location in the absence of other waste management options.

Chemolex Company and Smart Villages are installing 10 plastic capture devices in locations along the Athi River and its major tributaries, the Nairobi and Ngong Rivers. The team plans to install six devices in the first year of the project. Captured waste will be sorted and managed through various streams depending on the material. Plastic waste will be kept and the project aims to develop plastic recycling facilities to produce valuable post-consumer products including affordable plastic fencing poles and tiles for pavements, flooring, and roofing. Organic compounds will be converted into high-quality organic compost for the local Kenyan market.

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