Converting waste into profitable organic fertilizer
Waste management has evolved over time. Different companies, both public and private have claimed their space in the collection and recycling of waste products, a market that has been fragmented. According to Daniel Luis Paffenholz, founder of Taka Taka Solutions, Nairobi produces over 3,000 tonnes of waste per day, half of which is not collected. A study done by UN Habitat revealed that about 30-40 percent of the waste generated in Nairobi is not collected. This ends up being dumped illegally in undesignated areas thus building to clogging of drainages and blocking of alleys and walkways.
Founded in 2011, Taka Taka Solutions in in the business of collecting and recycling organic waste to produce an organic fertilizer ‘Bioplus’. The company serves over 10,000 households and a number of companies ranging from hotels, shopping malls, office buildings, restaurants, apartments and estates. Some of their clients include Safaricom, Two Rivers Mall, Village Market, Galleria Mall, Thika Road Mall, Radisson Blu, Hass Consult Real Estate among others.
“We have invested a lot in this business to win customer trust. This has enabled us to grow in leaps and bounds and take advantage of the opportunity that waste presents,” noted Daniel.
Initially when they started, they would provide the client with two bin liners in order to separate the waste. This proved to be expensive as the waste would be mixed up thus forcing them to sort the waste again.
Organic fertilizer is known to improve soil fertility, improve water retention, increase nutrients in the soil and improve texture.
With over 150 employees, Taka Taka Solutions has put mechanisms in place to have the waste sorted at the commercial premises thus reducing the amount of time spent at the sorting site. It recycles and composts 95% of the waste collected. The company has grown to become one of the top three biggest waste collection companies in Kenya. The plastic bag ban has contributed a lot to the shift in ideologies and perceptions on waste management.
It has not been smooth sailing for the business. Daniel noted that getting land for sorting and decomposing waste has not been easy. “People’s perceptions about having a waste plant is still negative. Convincing them that we have systems in place to ensure that it it possible to have a clean and organized facility is still a task,” revealed Daniel. The other challenge is that people still prefer cheaper and readily available alternatives to waste management as opposed to accessing services that are environment conscious and compliant with the law.
Article 2 of the fourth Schedule in the Constitution of Kenya explicitly provides that the County Governments shall be responsible for refuse removal, refuse dumps, and solid waste removal. The government may still not have the capacity to ensure that all waste is collected and properly disposed. Thus companies like Taka Taka Solutions bridge this gap with their efficient waste management alternative. More so, Kenya’s development blueprint, Vision 2030, recognizes the need for developing efficient and sustainable systems for waste management to encourage more investment in the sector and move the country to a middle income economy.
By Mercy Mumo