Cities generate garbage on a daily basis, from vegetable peel and sanitary pads in our homes, to syringes disposed off by hospitals. What kind of wastes are there, and what are the most common ways to recycle them?

In FAQs on Waste we summarise the basics about an issue that has major implications for our health and the well-being of our surroundings.


Workers sorting waste paper. Kamongo Paper Mill employs over 130 people on a permanent basis.

Waste management involves long-term planning of a system for taking care of waste in society. It requires setting and reaching goals for financing, collecting, sorting, transporting, and treating waste material.

To explore how other actors go about sorting and treatment, youth representative Emmanuel Masika and his colleagues from Trans Nzoia conducted a study trip to Nairobi and Kiambu.

“We are learning that waste paper can be pulped and re-used. I used to think the best way to deal with it is through burning,” says Emmanuel.

Among other places, the team visited Central Glass Industries in Kasarani. The company manufactures glass from both raw materials and recycled glass. It also studied Taka Taka Solutions, which collects up to 30 tonnes of waste every day, which it sorts and re-uses.

“Waste management should be seen as an investment rather than an expense,” says Emmanuel.

He also notes the importance of having laws in place. “For example, the Cities Act can incorporate waste management to steer how industries deal with the environment. We can borrow a leaf from already tried and tested policies.”

Read more about the study trip and interviews with others in Emmanuel’s team here.