Cleaner Methods of Production Save Firms Cash




Kibos Sugar company's waste water recycling section. PHOTO | FILE

Justus Oluoch, 41, a Kisumu resident, is a happy man. He can now drink water from nearby rivers safe in the knowledge that it is free from industrial effluent.

Only five years ago, he and other residents were using dirty water from rivers such as the Kibos, a key tributary that feeds into Lake Victoria, the source of fish for many Kenyans.

At the time, local industries including Kibos Sugar, had no way of avoiding to pollute the river with effluent from their plants.

“We could hardly use the water, even for washing clothes,” says Mr Oluoch.

But that is now history, thanks to works that ensures Kibos Sugar does not emit contaminated water into the river.

The factory is one of 35 on the Kenyan side of the Lake Victoria Basin that have adopted new efficient production methods to recycle their waste water.

Kibos Sugar says this has helped it reduce waste and save energy. This cut production costs by more than Sh22 million while residents say the frosty relations with the factory over water pollution have now thawed.

In Kericho county, Kitumbe Tea Factory has reduced air pollution after it adopted new technology to transport tea leaves to the plant instead of trucks that released fumes into the environment.

The sacks are taken to the plant by a cable anchored and running along towers.

The firm says it has also improved its energy efficiency with the use of renewable sources, saving Sh60 million annually.

These are just two of cases that are helping check ozone layer depletion in the Lake Victoria Basin under a Sh92.4 million funding by the World Bank and launched four years ago.

It is spearheaded by the Kenya National Cleaner Production Centre and also seeks to reduce the proliferation of water hyacinth in the lake.

Cleaner centre director Jane Nyakang’o said industries targeted are tea, sugar, fish processing, dairy, bakery, milling, bottling and distillery, textile, oil pipeline and floriculture.

She said after a company implements cleaner production methods, water, energy and raw material consumption is reduced. Less solid and water waste is emitted into Lake Victoria and that most firms had reduced their raw material, energy, water consumption by up to 50 per cent.

“It is hoped these savings can be reflected in lower cost of sugar,” she said.

Ms Nyakang’o said pollution has been reduced significantly, with some companies cutting theirs to standards set by the National Environmental Management Authority.

Staff from 90 companies have been trained in cleaner production methods. The training ends next year.

“We are seeking to have industries gain skills to identify and implement cleaner production technologies and techniques that help them either prevent or minimise waste generation,” she said.

This was started after a World Bank study found that industries along the lake basin released thousands of tonnes of effluent into the fresh water mass each year.

Ninety industries were found in a study to have released 4,200 tonnes of waste into the lake annually.

The study aimed to measure pollution in the effluent producing firms and set reduction targets.

The high levels of waste going into the environment proved that companies were incurring huge production costs.

Organic and chemical pollution were found to be responsible for the growth of the water hyacinth that chokes the lake.

As at 2010, the study says, organic pollution from about half of the 90 industries on the Kenyan side was 1,600 tonnes a year. Chemical pollution was 2,600 tonnes a year.

“This pollution reflects the raw material or other products that have escaped into the environment from production processes and which therefore constitute a lost opportunity for companies to enhance productivity,” says Ms Nyakang’o.

It also presented a problem with compliance to environmental regulations, the study said.

Companies that are inefficient in production lose their water, energy and materials into the environment this way.

This makes products and services more expensive and less competitive.

Ms Nyakang’o says regulators in the environment were also a target and helped them recommend cleaner production approaches. These include Nema, the Water Resources Management Authority, public health and municipal councils. “They are able to advise industry on the need to adopt voluntary and cost-effective tools of compliance such as cleaner production,” she says.

“Cleaner production presents a win-win situation where industries gain from avoided waste and improves the environment.”

Of the 90 industries, more than half have implemented no or low-cost options that include good housekeeping, preventive maintenance, equipment modification, re-use and recycling, among others.

this article is also available online The Daily Nation's Website


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