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Takataka Waste Management and Composting

This project provides a sustainable model for affordable waste management services. “Takataka waste management and composting” collects waste from slum communities for a small fee, supporting this service by selling off most of the waste as recyclables. The activity creates jobs for disadvantaged youth while cleaning up the slums.

Fast facts:

  • 1,500 households, 50 smaller businesses, and 1 market currently being served
  • 80 per cent of waste recycled
  • 35 full-time jobs created

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The problem

More than two-thirds of Nairobi’s citizens do not have access to waste collection services. While middle- and higher-income residents can count on private waste collectors to take away their household waste, the vast majority of residents in low-income communities are unable to afford existing private collection companies.

Due to the lack of affordable and accessible waste disposal options, most residents in Nairobi burn or dump their waste in public spaces, causing severe health and environmental problems. Regardless of where the city’s waste comes from, very little of it is ever sorted and recycled. Almost all is sent to legal and illegal landfills.

The solution

Takataka, which means “waste” in Kiswahili, collects waste from urban residents, businesses, restaurants, and markets. It provides biweekly collection, communal bins for waste separation, and weekly cleaning of bins and plots. Clients must separate their rubbish into organic, recyclable, and residual waste. Takataka then collects and transports the waste it to its processing facility. Organic waste is composted into high-quality organic fertilizer, while recyclable materials are separated and sold to recycling industries. It also transforms recycled bottles into beautiful wine glasses and tumblers. The leftover residual waste is sent for disposal to legally accredited landfills.

Since disposal costs are reduced and revenues generated from the sale of waste-to-value products, Takataka is able to offer its waste collection services for the price of only about $1 per household, per month – an amount that 90 percent of Nairobi residents are able to afford.

Helping the planet

Recycling prevents logging and carbon dioxide emissions from production of new paper, since no trees must be cut down. It also prevents the use of fossil fuels to produce plastics. Composting reduces emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Air and water pollution from dumping or burning waste is also prevented.

Helping people

Takataka alleviates poverty in lower-income areas through employment of underprivileged youths. Moreover, recycling and composting are stimulating new markets that create further jobs.

Spillover effect

The current waste processing facility is a pilot project, and as customer satisfaction demonstrates success, the project will grow. The project engages in compost field trials, and works to expand compost markets. The plans are to build an industrial-scale plant and serve more than 50,000 households across Nairobi by 2015. Since the model is self-reliant and doesn’t require municipal subsidies, it is highly replicable within a wider African context.

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Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.