- Three startups Twende Green Ecocycle, Oceania Pacesetter, and Eco-Redemptors offered the most effective solutions in tackling Mombasa’s marine plastics problem.
- Marine plastic waste is the most harmful form of scrap accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste.
- The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards and Celebration by Challenge Works was funded by USAID and Global Affairs Canada.
Three Mombasa-based startups that are helping reduce marine plastic waste have secured $50,000 in prize money for their innovations fighting pollution in the coastal region.
Twende Green Ecocycle emerged first place receiving $25,298. Twende Green Ecocycle is a social enterprise that promotes sustainable development. It tackles pollution by recycling marine plastic waste from informal settlements into school eco-desks. The startup says it uses advanced recycling technology to turn plastic waste into eco-desks. The start-up’s high-quality school lockable eco-desk are used by students and teachers.
Startups reducing marine plastic waste
Oceania Pacesetter emerged at second place bagging $18,070 prize. Using peddlers and an anchored net, Oceania Pacesetter retrieves plastic debris from the ocean. They then repurpose the debris into art installations and other creative projects.
Coming third place was Eco-Redemptors who took home $8,674 prize money. Eco-Redemptors is working closely with waste collectors in the coastal city to create a recycling centre. The collection centre offers fair pricing for the plastic waste they collect.
The three startups showcased effective solutions tackling Mombasa’s marine plastics problem. The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards and Celebration by Challenge Works was the culmination of a six-month initiative funded by USAID and Global Affairs Canada.
Fighting pollution in informal settlements
Designed by Challenge Works, the prize seeks to inspire young leaders, especially women aged 18-25 to tackle marine pollution. The challenge up-skills them to develop creative interventions that encourage individuals and communities in Mombasa slums to address plastic menace.
“I commend Challenge Works for its innovative design of prizes that involve not only the youth but the entire ecosystem in solving the County’s most pressing problems. With these creative ideas that our young people have developed over the past few months, Mombasa is well on its way to achieving its Green Cities goals as outlined in our County Solid Waste Management policy,” CECM Public Service Administration, Youth, Gender , Sports and Social Services Kenneth Amanbai said on behalf of the Governor of Mombasa.
He added that such innovations were a step forward in leading the country towards embracing innovative solutions from young people that can help reach the nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11: making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
At the national level, the State Department of Environment and Climate Change has invested heavily in both policies and law enforcement to win the fight against plastic pollution.
Plastics bulk of marine pollution
In addition to banning the manufacturing, retailing, distribution and importation of plastic carrier and flat bags for commercial or household use in 2017, the Ministry also prohibited their use in protected areas in 2019.
The Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the National Environmental Management Association David Ong’are said plastics are the largest, most harmful and most persistent form of waste accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste.
“Mismanaged waste aggravates the triple climate change crisis; nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution,” he said.
Mr Ong’are said the government will invest in the country’s transition to green economic ecosystems. This is by among others focusing on recycling, reuse, and reducing plastic waste.
Two such efforts are the Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (2016-2030) and The Sustainable Waste Management Act 2022.
“With these investments, Kenya has strengthened its international reputation as a good steward of the environment. We are excited to see Mombasa County upholding these commitments against marine plastics mismanagement,” he said.
The awards borrow heavily from the Afri-Plastics Challenge, a continent-wide plastics innovation challenge worth over $4.4 million. A total of five Kenyan startups out of nine startups scooped over $2.1 million to scale their ideas at the inaugural Afri-Plastics Summit. The Ministry of Environment PS Festus Ngeno presided the forum on March 17.
Fight against marine plastic waste
Kenya and USAID will be launching an accelerator programme to help the winners of the challenge harness their ideas. This was revealed by USAID Kenya & East Africa Environment Office representative Anna Ghnouly. The initiative will be part of intensifying the fight against ocean plastic pollution.
The Mombasa Plastics Prize initiative is aligned with global efforts to find solutions to plastic pollution. The awards precedes UN’s 50th World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5th June.