Investigation into the level of compliance with the solid waste management regulations 2006


High level of solid waste generation in most world cities poses serious challenges to protecting and promoting desirable human health conditions as envisioned in Chapter 6 of Agenda 21. The chapter focuses on five vital program areas (the necessity to meet primary health care needs, control communicable diseases, protecting vulnerable groups, satisfying urban health challenges and reducing the risk from pollution of the environment and its related hazards). Developed and developing nations, therefore, must focus on addressing the primary health needs of the increasing world population. The world human population is trending towards seven billion in by 2013 (Gilbert, 2006). Meeting the primary health demands of the ever-increasing world human population is essential to achieve the goals of sustainable development. This necessitates strategies to enhance proper solid waste management initiatives that are satisfactory against the high waste production rate.

The challenge of solid waste pollution is evident from a global perspective. In Asia, most countries such as India face a serious challenge of pollution from solid wastes. African countries still have diverse environmental problems including improper solid waste collection in most cities. In Uganda, for instance, poor solid waste management is a major challenge in its capital city, Kampala. Kenya’s cities are not exceptional concerning the challenge of poor solid waste management. Nairobi County, for instance, faces a grim challenge regarding compliance with waste management regulations among waste generators (Kenya, 2011). Waste generators’ level of compliance with solid waste management regulations has a mutual relationship with the level of pollution and environmental health in Nairobi County.

Since health and sustainable development have close interconnections, any challenge to public health, therefore, hinders progress towards sustainable development (UNEP, 2011). Considering the mutually supportive nature of the aspects of environmentally sound waste management, waste management regulations have a central role in promoting environmentally sound waste management, and consequently, sustainable development. Addressing the challenge of solid waste management in Nairobi County requires a comprehensive study on the population’s level of compliance with relevant waste management regulations. It promotes compliance with the solid waste management regulations among the population of Nairobi County by proposing an action plan to enhance compliance among the population. It promotes high-quality human and environmental health as well attaining sustainable development goals.

By August 2009, the population of Nairobi was 3, 138, 369 people as envisioned in the 2009 population census results (Kenya, 2010). High level of human population has related implications including unprecedented increase in solid waste generation. Legal notice no. 121 of 2006, otherwise cited as the environmental management and co-ordination (waste management) regulations, 2006, is the key legislation used in Kenya to guide all waste management initiatives (Kenya, 2013). Despite the existence of relevant solid waste management regulations, there are unprecedented challenges to achieving the goals of environmentally sound solid waste management in Kenya.

Urban area residents and the business community operating in urban areas show an alarming trend regarding their level of compliance with the provisions of relevant waste management regulations. This hampers environmentally sound solid waste management initiatives and sustainable development. Low level of compliance with waste management regulations by waste generators is a potential probable cause of the problem of improper disposal of solid waste. Nairobi County faces an evident environmental problem of pollution from improper disposal of solid waste. Only 37% of the waste generated in Nairobi residential areas is collected and taken to designated dumpsites (Kenya, 2003).

Although many countries, through different institutions and policy frameworks, target to address solid waste pollution challenges, attaining the goals of environmentally sound management of solid waste remains a key challenge. The approach to waste management in many developing countries has been rather ad hoc and unplanned – concentrating on physical aspects. Policy and legislative aspects of management-based integrated solid waste management, however, are rarely implemented. Notably, policy frameworks and legislative provisions are vital in the attainment of environmentally sound management of solid waste. Achieving the goals of environmentally sound management of solid waste, therefore, requires strategies to enhance compliance with relevant policy and legislative provisions.

Status of compliance with environmental laws, regulations and policies

a.) Factors affecting compliance with laws, regulations and policies

Understanding compliance and noncompliance with laws entails the consideration of vital concepts social science. Generally, compliance with directives and laws is much defined by the extent of enforcement conducted by the relevant administration (Stover & Brown, 2007). There are prerequisite conditions, which administrations must ensure to promote the level of compliance with laws. Compliance is never absolute, however. One key factor that determines compliance with laws among citizens is their normative commitment. Normative commitment refers to personal morality that compels an individual to obey the law. It may also emanate from an individual’s feeling that the enforcement authority has the right to dictate behaviour (Tyler, 2006).

b.) Socio-economic factors that influence compliance with laws, regulations and policies

Diverse socio-economic factors influence compliance with laws, regulations and policies. Concerning environmental (waste management, for the purpose of this study) regulations, various factors such the waste generators knowledge of the regulations and their perception about formal enforcement levels by the relevant authority affect their level of compliance. Effective law enforcement requires extensive public awareness creation. Education and awareness creation should inform the target population of the problem of solid waste pollution and reasons why compliance is a viable solution (McElreath et al., 2013). The media’s role in enhancing public awareness is appreciable. Relevant authorities should use the media to promote compliance with environmental (waste management) regulations. This serves to generate public support and eases enforcement mechanisms.

c.) Public access to Information on the general environmental protection laws

The Rio Declaration outlines twenty-seven (27) principles that guide sustainable development. Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration recognizes that environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all relevant stakeholders at respective levels (DESA, 2000). Appropriate access to information concerning the environment by all stakeholders at different levels is imperative for the implementation of environmental laws and policies. The principle encourages states and authorities to facilitate public awareness and participation by ensuring wide accessibility to information. The right of access to information, public participation and justice on environmental issues is vital for the realization of sustainable development. The Rio 2012 Summit called for strong commitment by UN members to ensure that their legal structures on environmental concerns conform to the provisions of principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. The principle should also form part of all decision-making processes (Dodds, Laguna-Celis & Thompson, 2014). Participatory decision-making is imperative in enhancing the ability of governments to make prompt response to public concerns. It also helps to improve compliance with environmental laws and policies. Full implementation of the waste management regulations 2006, therefore, should involve strategies aimed at promoting public access to information. Environmental information access centers are important in enhancing public awareness and subsequent high compliance levels.

Compliance with the Waste Management Regulations 2006

a.)Important definitions according the Waste Management Regulations 2006

The regulation, otherwise cited as legal notice no. 121 of 2006, is a key policy that governs waste management in Kenya. Part II of the Act provides the general provisions for environmentally sound solid management of waste. As defined in the Act, domestic waste implies all wastes generated from residences. Waste management, as provided in the Act, refers to an activity either administrative or operational that aims to aid the processes of handling, packaging, treatment, conditioning, storage and disposal of waste. Environmentally sound management of waste refers to the practice of taking all practical steps to ensure that waste is managed through a strategy that protects human health as well as the environment against any negative implications that may result from the waste. A disposal site, as defined in the act, means any area of land designated for waste disposal. A disposal site is an area of land on which there are facilities for final waste discharge without the necessity for retrieval.

Waste recycling refers to the processing of waste material into a new product but that has similar chemical composition. Waste reprocessing refers to the practice of changing it in a new product that has different chemical composition. Waste reuse implies making it valuable with or without cleaning and /or repairing. Segregation is a process of separating waste materials for reprocessing. Proper storage means the placement of waste in a location that is suitable or appropriate with a facility where isolation, environmental, health protection and human control are available to ensure subsequent retrieval of waste for treatment or disposal. Treatment of waste refers to a process, method or technique applied that alters the chemical, biological and physical characteristics of waste to reduce the hazards that it may have. A waste generator refers to a person undertaking any activity that produces wastes (Kenya, 2013).

b.) Provisions governing solid waste management

The regulation outlines guidelines for achieving environmentally sound solid waste management. It defines the roles of all stakeholders involved (from waste generation, management to final disposal and treatment).

Responsibilities of the waste generators

  • No person shall dispose of any waste in any public space except in designated locations for disposal and in waste receptacles.
  • Every waste generator has the responsibility to collect, segregate and dispose the waste according to standards provided in the act.
  • The regulation further recognizes the necessity for clean productions methods and processes.
  • Every waste generator, therefore, must observe clean production methods.
  • Waste generators should focus on the improvement of production process through diverse strategies.
  • They should undertake initiatives that promote conservation of raw materials and energy.
  • Waste generators should eliminate the use of toxic raw materials and reduce toxic emissions and wastes.
  • Waste generators should monitor the product cycle from the beginning to end through three key strategies.
  • First, identification and elimination of potential adverse implications of the products.
  • Secondly, ensuring recovery and re-use of products where possible.
  • Third, ensuring reclamation and recycling throughout the product cycle. In addition to product cycle monitoring, the regulation provides that waste generators should incorporate environmental concerns in the design and disposal of a product. The regulation provides directions for waste segregation by the generator. A waste generator should separate hazardous from non-hazardous waste. Disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes should be in facilities provided by the relevant local authority.

Responsibilities of waste transporters

  • All waste transporters should possess annual license approved by the relevant authority.
  • No transporter is legible for a transportation license unless when operating a vehicle approved by the issuing authority, after recommendation by relevant lead agency.
  • Labeling of all waste transportation vehicles should be in such a manner as directed by the relevant authority.
  • Licensed waste transporters should operate in designated geographical areas as directed by the relevant authority.
  • Every licensed waste transporter shall use the routes designated by the licensing authority and stipulated in the license.

Responsibilities of the licensing authority

The licensing authority should indicate the disposal operations permitted and identified for the particular waste. The regulation provides for mandatory environmental audits for all disposal sites or plants by the authority (Kenya, 2013).

Implications of compliance level with solid waste management regulations

a.) Low compliance level with Solid Waste Management regulation in Kampala, Uganda

The Kampala Capital City Authority is the main authority mandated to provide solid waste management services. The authority involves private service providers in enhancing the collection of wastes in the city. However, waste management condition in the city remains poor. According to reports by the Ugandan Auditor general, there is an evident failure by the authority to provide adequate transportation service. Improper management of private waste collection services is a major shortcoming in Kampala (Oberlin, 2013). There is a high amount of accumulated solid waste in Kampala. Recommendations of the report highlight programs such as public education on modern waste management, ensuring adequate supervision, and monitoring and control mechanisms. Policy gaps and low level of compliance with the Solid Waste Management Ordinance, 2000 by various stakeholders is a cause of improper solid waste management in Kampala.

b.) Best practices from other countries

Solid Waste Management in the City of Tacoma, Washington, USA

The City of Tacoma has a robust solid waste management program. The city has a solid waste utility that provides essential services including garbage, recycling and yard waste. The program covers single-family residential homes, multifamily units and commercial customers. The utility operates a landfill that provides full service in solid waste management. It has a solid waste recycling center. In addition, it has a facility for handling hazardous household wastes. Waste collection services in the city cover a commendable part of the city’s population. The facility operates a residential bulk item collection service (Tacoma City Council, 2013). The Tacoma City Council-operated solid waste management facility is designed to meet the need to ensure reduction and reuse of solid waste at source. There are personnel employed to offer environmental education and involvement programs to citizens.

Education and awareness programs aim at enhancing waste reduction and resource conservation initiatives among the residents of the city of Tacoma. The council has invested in solid waste collection facilities including tracks and inspection vehicles. The proper solid waste collection mechanisms in the City of Tacoma comply with the provisions of the Minimum Functional Standards for Solid Waste Handling regulations. The regulation has provisions for proper storage, collection, and disposal of discards, other management functions or operational activities including waste reduction, source separation, waste recycling, transportation, processing, treatment, resource recovery, energy recovery, incineration, and landfill operations (Washington State Legislature, 2013). Proper compliance with the legislation, therefore, enhances solid waste management services in the city of Tacoma, Washington.

Applicable strategy to enhance compliance with solid waste management regulations

Theoretical Framework

UNEP’s three perspectives of Integrated Solid Waste Management

The United Nations Environment Program highlights three perspectives of integrated solid waste management: Life cycle perspective, waste generation perspective, and management-based (UNEP, 2009). The life cycle perspective involves an assessment of the lifecycle of a product its production to consumption levels. Based on the life cycle system, reduced consumption and subsequent measures to utilized discarded materials in the production system, as valuable resources, constitutes an effective waste management system. Proper management of the production system leads to a highly reduced end-of-cycle generation of wastes. Hence, it forms an applicable framework for integrated solid waste management (UNEP, 2009).

The waste generation perspective of ISWM is based on management of wastes at the source. These include domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural wastes. It involves classification of wastes as hazardous and non-hazardous. It reiterates the importance of segregation at source and further appropriate treatment before disposal at the most appropriate and designated sites. Disposal of waste must adhere to strict regulations set by the relevant government authority or government department. The 3R approach (Reuse, reduce and recycle) are equally to enhance collection, transportation and disposal of wastes.

The management-based perspective of integrated solid waste management

Management-based perspective of ISWM forms the theoretical framework of this study. This perspective is based on an ISWM framework that includes regulations and laws, institutions, financial mechanisms, technology and infrastructure and the role of diverse stakeholders. Based on the framework, governments (local and national departments) should enact effective regulations. In addition, they should set proper financial mechanisms for waste generators, service providers and the business community. In turn, waste generators (residents, industries and waste from services or business) should comply with relevant waste disposal regulations (UNEP 2009). Waste generators should also consider the application of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle). It is noteworthy that proper and effective regulations and regulatory process is a prerequisite for the management-based ISWM to function successfully. Waste generators should maintain high level of compliance with solid waste management regulations. The business community and waste service providers should also maintain high compliance levels. Therefore, the system is best applicable with the existence of two critical conditions:

  1. Presence of waste disposal mechanisms as well as effective regulations and financial mechanisms for generators, service providers and businesses; and
  2. High level of compliance with regulations concerning solid waste management, by all stakeholders in the entire ISWM process.

Five factors have central contributions in the proper implementation of the management-based framework of ISWM;

  1. Policies- include laws, regulations, economic and enforcement tools
  2. Institutions- Include institutional frameworks, jurisdiction, resources and linkages

iii. Financial mechanisms- including taxes/fees, levies, subsidies and support/ aids

  1. Technology- including those applied in transportation, treatment, disposal, recycling and recovery
  2. Stakeholder participation- Including waste generators, service providers, the private sector and government (UNEP, 2009).

Management-Based perspective of Integrated Solid Waste Management

Source: UNEP. (2009). Developing Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan Training Manual: Volume 2: Assessment of Current Waste Management System and Gaps therein (Management-based Integrated Solid Waste Management). 


It is evident that there is uneven trend of compliance with the solid waste regulations (2006) among various stakeholders (generators, licensed transporters and the authority) and there is also a low compliance with the regulation among waste generators compared to licensed solid waste transporters and the authority. With serious concerns of rising population the problem is likely to escalate (Kenya, 2011). Low level of compliance with the waste management regulations is a central contributory factor to high level of pollution from solid waste. The solution, in the first place, is the minimisation of waste. Where waste cannot be avoided, recovery of materials and energy from waste as well as remanufacturing and recycling waste into usable products should be the second option. Recycling leads to substantial resource savings. As a compliment to the aforementioned strategies, strict observation of regulations governing solid waste management is indispensable. All stakeholders should observe strict compliance with relevant provisions of the solid waste management regulations.


Addressing challenges of regulatory compliance

The government should undertake extensive efforts to enhance the development, organization, and policy direction of regulatory programs in the field of environment. A key determinant of government effectiveness is how well regulatory systems achieve their policy objectives. In most instances, regulatory failures tend to attract calls for more regulation by governments, with little assessment of the underlying reasons for failure. Although there is little hard evidence, a growing body of studies suggests that inadequate compliance underlies many regulatory compliance failures. In recent years, governments have enhanced their efforts to examine how best to achieve policy objectives more cost-effectively through better regulation or different mixes of policy tools aimed at improving regulatory compliance.

National and county governments’ actions to promote regulatory compliance must consider the following three factors:

  1. The degree to which the target group knows of and comprehends the rules,
  2. The degree to which the target group is willing to comply – either because of economic incentives, positive attitudes arising from a sense of good citizenship, acceptance of the policy goals, or pressure from enforcement activities, and
  3. The degree to which the target group is able to comply with the rules

Based on the three considerations, national and county governments should employ the following mix of activities to ensure that environmental regulations take effect:

  1. Communication with the target group to inform it about duties and explain various provisions stipulated in the rules.
  2. Application of many kinds of policy instruments (taxes, prohibitions and subsidies for example) to influence the behaviour of the target group, backed up with a variety of enforcement activities (such as inspections and penalties).
  3. Adequate implementation to make the policy workable in practice, which means that governments have to ensure that the necessary information is provided to the target group and other technical facilities or mechanisms are taken.

To address challenges of compliance with environmental regulations, the following strategies would be effective:

a) All regulations need to be accompanied by information campaigns to ensure that they are brought to the notice of and made comprehensible to the target population. This would address the challenge of a common assumption that the target group will be aware of, and understand how to comply with a rule when it is published. The responsibility of policymakers does and implementing authority, therefore, does not end after publication of the regulation.

b) Strategies to support good compliance outcomes should be initiated at the regulatory design stage. Methods should be developed to help improve the likely level of future regulatory compliance.

c) Monitoring compliance trends among targeted population should also be a key part evaluation programs for existing regulations. Information and compliance data should help improve the effectiveness of enforcement activities.

d) Regulatory agencies need to shift from traditional performance measures, such as their own level of activity (i.e. measuring inputs). Instead, regulatory agencies need to shift towards output measures, such as environmental results, health effects, declines in injury rates, and behavioural outcomes that impact more directly on the population’s social welfare.

e) Regulatory drafting, implementation, monitoring, and enforcement should be designed to maximise the potential for target groups to achieve substantive policy goals (Bruch & Mrema, 2006).

Best practices to improve compliance with solid waste management regulations.

Results-oriented regulatory policy refers to regulatory development is designed to ensure maximum compliance with regulation and to accomplish substantive policy goals, at lowest cost.

The following best practices would promote compliance with waste management regulations among waste generators, the authority and licensed transporters in Starehe District.

a) Building institutional capacity for solid waste regulations enforcement:

Prioritizing and strategically focusing on law enforcement efforts;

Promoting better interagency linkages at national and local levels;

Establishing partnerships with appropriate NGOs, civil society or private sector actors to support enforcement and/or monitoring;

Enabling citizens, supported where necessary by NGOs and government agents, to assist in monitoring and detecting solid waste non-compliance.

b) Improving data and knowledge

Accurate and up-to-date information is essential for prevention, detection, and monitoring, reporting, non-compliance with solid waste management regulations. Strategies to improve data and knowledge involve assessment and monitoring of compliance with waste management regulations. This is indispensable to provide baseline data on the state of pollution, which will in turn allow monitoring of changes over time.

c) Rationalizing the policy and legal environment

A number of steps can be taken in order to streamline and rationalize solid waste management policies and laws, including:

  1. assessing underlying social, economic, cultural and political causes of non-compliance and modifying the policy and legal framework;
  2. increasing clarity, transparency and consistency of solid waste management legislation, by drafting legislation that is simple, unambiguous, based on tested approaches and

iii. ensuring cross-sectoral linkages and collaboration to guarantee a coherent and overarching approach to waste management issues.


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