Managing plastic waste in East Africa: Niche innovations in plastic production and solid waste

L.O. Ombis, B.J.M. van Vliet*, A.P.J. Mol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


This paper assesses the uptake of environmental innovation practices to cope with plastic waste in Kenyan urban centres at the interface of solid waste management and plastic production systems. The Multi Level Perspective on Technological Transitions is used to evaluate 7 innovation pathways of plastic waste prevention, reuse or recycling. An assessment is made as to whether the innovations lead to changes in the regimes of waste management and plastic production and eventually an integrated regime for plastic production and reuse. The study comprises of a review of policy documents and statistics, site visits and in-depth interviews with main actors involved in plastic waste related innovation. The comparative analysis of social network building, actor expectations and learning processes in the 7 innovation routes reveals that Kenya is still far from having a well-aligned plastic production-cum-waste regime that enables plastic waste prevention, recycling and handling practices. Innovations by yard shop owners and home grown industries contribute to an aligned plastic waste recycling regime, where PET exporters, bio-degradable plastic sellers and CBO collectors fail to do so. All innovation actors face a lack of governmental recognition and guidelines to close the loop of plastic production and waste handling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-197
JournalHabitat International
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • multi-regime dynamics
  • management
  • expectations
  • perspective
  • sanitation
  • reconfiguration
  • metropolises
  • collection
  • sociology
  • prospects


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