Mombasa County Start-ups Awarded $50,000 for Innovative Solutions to Combat Plastic Pollution
Three innovative start-ups in Mombasa County have been granted $50,000 (equivalent to Sh7.2 million) for their ground-breaking solutions aimed at addressing plastic pollution in the coastal region.
The top three winners include Team Twende Green Ecocycle (1st Place) receiving KSh 3.5 million, Oceania Pacesetter (2nd Place) awarded Ksh 2.5 million, and Team Eco-Redemptors (3rd Place) receiving KSh 1.2 million. These teams were recognized for their effective strategies in tackling the marine plastics issue in Mombasa.
The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards and Celebration, organized by Challenge Works, marked the culmination of a six-month initiative funded by USAID and Global Affairs Canada. The aim of the prize was to inspire and empower young leaders, particularly women aged 18-25, to develop creative interventions that encourage individuals and communities in Mombasa to address marine plastic pollution in informal settlements.
Kenneth Amanbai, the representative of the Governor of Mombasa, commended Challenge Works for their innovative approach in engaging not only the youth but the entire ecosystem in solving the pressing problems of the county. He emphasized that the creative ideas developed by young people over the past few months are propelling Mombasa towards achieving its Green Cities goals as outlined in the County Solid Waste Management policy.
He further stated that such innovations are crucial in driving the country’s progress towards embracing innovative solutions from young people, which contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 11 – making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
At the national level, the State Department of Environment & Climate Change has made significant investments in policies and law enforcement to combat plastic pollution. The Ministry has not only banned the manufacturing, retailing, distribution, and importation of plastic carrier and flat bags for commercial or household use since 2017, but it has also prohibited their use in protected areas since 2019.
During the prize ceremony, David Ong’are, the Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), highlighted that plastics constitute the largest, most harmful, and persistent form of waste, accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste. Ong’are emphasized that mismanaged waste exacerbates the triple crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution.
The Ministry of Environment continues to invest in driving the country’s transition to a green growth and circular economy, focusing on recycling, reuse, and reducing plastic waste. Key initiatives in this regard are the Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (2016-2030) and The Sustainable Waste Management Act 2022.
Anna Ghnouly, the representative from USAID Kenya & East Africa Environment Office, announced during the event that USAID Kenya would be launching a business accelerator program to support the winners of the challenge in scaling their ideas and leading the fight against ocean plastic pollution.
The Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards align with global efforts to find solutions to plastic pollution and serve as a timely initiative. The event took place ahead of the United Nations’ 50th World Environment Day, which is celebrated annually on June 5th, with this year’s theme focusing on solutions to plastic pollution in Côte d’Ivoire.