BY ANNE MACHARIA
TakaTaka Solutions: Affordable and environmentally friendly waste management
There will be 1.4 billion more people in cities around the world in the next 8 years and each person will be producing an average of 1.42kg of municipal solid waste per day, according to the World Economic Forum. For a country with high ambitions for our economic growth and poverty reduction, such as ours, what do these numbers mean?
Occupying a massive 30-acre space in Nairobi lies an answer that is easily attainable. The current state of the Dandora dumpsite is the embodiment of the impact of environmental neglect on our lives. It is the stark reality that demonstrates that no matter how much gentrification we undertake we still have yet to solve a fundamental problem in our city.
Dandora is also a physical representation of our collective attitude towards waste and responsibility. Customarily, we have made it such that, as long as we do not see the waste that we are generating then it doesn’t exist. This has become a part of our culture so much so, that when the dumpsite became overwhelmed and the spill over found its way to our neighborhoods and gated communities, we still are unwilling to see it and acknowledge that it is getting out of control.
While waste generation is a natural part of healthy living, it becomes a threat if the systems in place are not sufficient to manage it properly. An increasing population, coupled with the dynamic needs of the society, continue to magnify and complicate the amount and kind of waste that is generated, demanding an equally sophisticated system to deal with this complex problem. This means our perceptions and attitudes on waste have to change. We should stop distancing ourselves from a problem that is present in all aspects of our lives and start immersing ourselves in finding out how best to manage it for our benefit.
Urban Kenya is faced by a waste management problem. In Nairobi, 2.5 out 3.5 million people cannot afford waste collection services. Farmers in rural areas are faced by declining soil fertility, which negatively affects their productivity and income. TakaTaka Solutions is a Nairobi-based social enterprise that provides end-to-end waste management services. By recycling and composting 95% of waste, TakaTaka Solutions is able to provide affordable waste management services to all income areas while at the same time providing farmers with high quality compost (organic fertilizer) that increases soil fertility.
Taka taka solutions was founded in 2011 to overcome the existing waste management situation in Nairobi and beyond. Most waste in Africa’s cities remains uncollected, causing severe health and environmental problems, in particular for the urban poor. In Nairobi 2.5 out of 3.5 million people cannot afford waste collection services.
Through its pioneering approach taka taka solutions offers waste collection services to all income areas. Moreover, Taka taka solutions creates a greener and healthier environment by recycling and composting 80% (and more) of waste. Through its innovative franchising model, Taka taka solutions creates sustainable employment for underprivileged youth in lower income areas.
To achieve this Taka taka solutions brings together professionals from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds, jointly bringing together more than 30 years of waste management experience in both Africa and Europe.
Affordability in Sales Market
Takataka solutions is able to offer affordable waste management services for as low as 1 usd per household per month. This is made possible as TakaTaka Solutions recycles 95% of the waste instead of disposing it in a costly manner at dumpsites.
TakaTaka Solutions’ current operations:
- 25 tonnes of waste collected per day (95% is recycled and composted)
- Serving 12,000 households (around 40,000 people)
- wo recycling points and one composting plant
- 120 employees (60% women) employees receive health insurance and other benefits
Waste to Energy
For a country that has been championing green energy solutions this ideally should be music to our ears. We are accustomed to thinking that green energy solutions come from wind, water and solar, rightly so. However waste is also a very critical resource in providing green energy solutions. Waste that is created, for example, when foods such as meats and vegetables are being processed is monumental. Nonetheless other countries in the world have used it successfully as a raw material for heat, electricity and methane gas. In America, industries in this sector have set partnered with their government to set up waste to energy plants as a long lasting solution to their waste problems. Global Change Biology’s research on waste to energy states that we cut global carbon emissions by 80% if we used garbage to make biofuels.
There is a lot of research and many practical examples all over the world on how to turn waste into something more meaningful as it will always be a part of our lives. The solutions for waste management, as I mentioned, are within reach, we just need an attitude adjustment and the will to turn it into a resource.