BY VICTOR ADAR
At any given time, Kenyans buy stuff packed in papers, tins, or, plastic bags. That notebook, that newspaper, that carton box… While some individuals try to make such waste products user friendly – try to picture someone who is using a margarine tin as soap dish. Or, one who is using a bottle of juice as a water bottle, and for carrying tea, and even porridge, the technical ones do so by taking the wastes through biocides in order to inhibit pollutants. But where will the waste all go?
Darshan Chandaria, 31, is one shrewd guy on the driving seat of a company that has won multinational awards as the biggest paper recycler in East Africa. The ambitious Chief Executive of Chandaria Industries talks of the three of their tissue brands which are made from recycled waste paper, offering better options of disposing off waste at a time when figures show declining growth in paper waste in Kenya, thanks to automated processes.
What keeps the youthful professional up at night is the pollution caused by trash, perhaps the reason as to why he is now issuing a call to offices and businesses to sign up for collections, particularly of waste paper. A spot-check in town show that most offices have a dust bin. Then, every tenant, and those who live in their own houses often are paying for the general waste collections, while they could put them up into a recycling collection network.
There’s a great opportunity on waste collections these days, and the market is a tad big if we are to hold what Chandaria Industries, which is a popular paper recycler in East Africa, is doing. It is leading the pack in calling on private companies, offices and businesses to subscribe to its recycling collection network. Actually, the manufacturer of toilet tissue brands that include Toilex, Rosy and Dawn Pekee from recycled paper, and egg trays, counter rolls and brown paper under the Nyati brand, is one private sector player now making an effort to turn around and save the environment.
“There is still huge untapped potential to recycle waste paper in Kenya,” says Chandaria.
“As demand for our products rises, and waste paper production falls, we need businesses to take the step into green thinking and join our collection network. Across all our collection networks, recycling our paper resources is really an important step in managing our environment.”
Mr Chandaria, who is a graduate of an Ivy-league (business management degree, Cardiff University, UK), estimates that the recycling plant has saved over 22 million trees, and drawn in trash that might otherwise have littered the streets of urban Kenya. And despite the fact that supply fell by 5% between 2015 and 2016, the firm recycles 40 tonnes of paper waste in a day, an indication that things are clicking big time.
Since the firm moved into paper recycling 32 years ago, booming the venture has been that a number of big clients like the Central Bank of Kenya, government and private printing presses, and international organisations such as United Nations, with a typical delivery being voting papers from previous elections delivered by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, have subscribed to Chandaria’s waste collection services.
“Due to the confidentiality of most of these documents, these suppliers often deliver their paper waste themselves or have it collected directly by Chandaria Industries. But the company also runs a large network of agents, and works with paper waste collection companies, such as Kamongo Waste Paper Ltd,” says Chandaria, who adds that the growth of paper waste has slowed as companies have automated their processes.
Dealing with paper waste has meant that Chandaria recycles office waste in Kenya, and sends brown paper and cardboard to its sister company based in Tanzania, Tanpack Tissues Limited, which uses the waste to manufacture cement bags that are then distributed to cement making companies. A side from three of the firm’s toilet tissue lines which are made from recycled paper employing more than 15,000 waste paper agents, it also curbs tree cutting, saves energy, and uses less water than manufacturing paper, as well as creating employment.
The ratio of paper waste is far higher for private companies and offices than for homes and for overall municipalities. Yet private companies are often paying for general waste collections that go to landfill or for open burning, where simply setting aside a bin for paper waste could put them into a recycling collection network.
Figures show paper is still the third largest source of trash in many Kenyan counties, running close to the levels of plastic waste. But paper waste has not been growing as rapidly as organic and plastic waste. It is such a pathetic scene in most towns with issues of waste collection becoming such a bad scene.
In Kisumu, for example, paper accounted for 12.3% of municipal waste according to a NEMA assessment in 2015, ahead of plastics at 10.2%. But a Kisumu case study in 2016 found those shares reversed, with paper accounting for 10% of the city’s waste, behind plastics at 12.5%.
Some 7 million hectares of forest are being lost each year to industrial agriculture production of commodities like palm oil, fabric, paper and logging – according to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2016 State of the Forests report. Locally, Kenya loses up to 5.6 million trees daily, despite the many campaigns carried out on environmental conservancy.
People abreast with the industry say paper wastes is a major contributor to air and water pollution, and that recycling paper could reduce water pollution by 35% and air pollution by 74%. But the good thing is, when apples, bananas, and avocados are good, investing in the business of recycling waste is even better. And Chandaria’s efforts to make things happen cannot be ignored. The firm’s dedication to protecting the environment has seen it recognised as the overall winner during this year’s Energy Management Awards by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers.
“Previously, the company has won the Medium Consumer winner in the Overall Energy Management Award and was the 1st runners up for the Best Energy Management Presentation,” says Chandaria.