Plastic waste has been and still is a major challenge and concern globally but more so in the developing countries. Plastic has been shown to impact negatively on marine life more specifically marine animals. Watamu ward, in Kilifi County, Kenya, is an important breeding ground for the critically endangered turtles and is being affected by plastic waste. The aim of this study was to assess the characteristics, disposal methods and management of plastic waste in Watamu, in order to contribute to an understanding of the plastic waste disposal practices in the country. The specific objectives were to characterize the plastic waste in Watamu, as well as their streams. Secondly, the study also assessed the factors influencing level of knowledge, attitude and perception among the general public with respect to plastic waste disposal. Thirdly, the study determined the factors that influence plastic waste disposal methods. Finally, the study assessed and described the existing plastic waste management methods in the study area. A social survey was conducted to characterize plastic waste and determine the existing plastic waste management methods in the study area. Stratified random sampling design was used to divide the population of Watamu into groups based on their sub-locations and simple random sampling was used to arrive at the sample for this study. Primary data were collected using observation, structured questionnaire and semi-structured interviews and secondary data from various sources. The data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The results show that 55.4% of the plastic waste discarded was low density polyethylene that was discarded by the public who were responsible for 69.3% of the plastic waste found discarded. According to the results, 50.7% of plastic wastes were disposed of at the open dumpsite at Timbotaka, in Watamu sub-location. Location of the respondents was a significant factor that influenced the level of knowledge, attitude and perception with respect to plastic waste disposal (FH = 25.729, p = 0.002; FH = 16.289, p = 0.033; FH = 24.145, p = 0.009). It also influenced the plastic waste disposal methods used by respondents (FH = 50.708, p = 0.000). Other factors that influenced plastic waste disposal methods include occupation FH = 30.082, p = 0.038), waste collection and presence of recycling centres. The existing plastic waste management methods are re-use and small-scale re-cycling done by locals and Eco-world respectively. In conclusion, the proximity of waste disposal sites determines the plastic waste disposal methods used by the locals. Therefore, for environmentally-sound management of plastic waste, disposal sites should be easily accessible. Further awareness campaigns and public education need also to be done on plastic waste management to facilitate proper disposal methods.

Background Information
Plastics consist of long chains of beads in which monomers such as ethylene, propylene, styrene and vinyl chloride are interconnected to form a chain referred to as a polymer (Wienaah, 2007). Polymerization process results in the formation of polymers such as polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). One or more types of monomers may be used to make a compound (Johnson, 2017).

Plastics have a variety of uses such as greenhouses, mulches, coating and wiring, packaging, covers, bags and containers. Therefore, it is quite realistic to find a substantial amount of plastic waste in the final stream of municipal solid waste (MSW) (Al-Salem, Lettieri, & Baeyens, 2009). Plastics (synthetic polymers) have attracted more public and media attention than any other component of the solid waste stream because of their durability and visibility in waste. Therefore, environmentally sound management of waste is necessary to prevent environmental pollution.

Plastic waste may come from a variety of sources including households, commercial areas, industries and agriculture. They can be broadly classified as thermoplastics or thermosets. Thermoplastics are plastics that are able to be repeatedly moulded such as PE, PS PVC (Hansen, Nilsson, Lithner, & Lassen, 2013). Thermosets, however, cannot be re-moulded as they undergo chemical changes such as melamine resin, silicone, vinyl (Al-Salem et al., 2009). According to UNEP, plastic waste can be best classified on the basis of the type of polymer from which it has been made such as PS or PVC (UNEP, 2009a).

In East Africa, plastic waste is the third major component of MSW after organic waste and paper waste (UNEP, 2009a). Plastic waste has for a long time presented a challenge when it comes to waste management in Kenya. In Nairobi, for example, 20% of the total waste is said to be plastic waste (KNCPC, 2006). There is a wide variety of plastic materials available commercially in developed countries compared to developing countries where there are fewer types (Wienaah, 2007). In both, however, the most commonly recycled are polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which can be subdivided based on their density, manufacturing process involved and the additives they have (Wienaah, 2007).

Countries with coastal borders dispose of plastics into the oceans with the largest quantities estimated to come from relatively small number of middle-income, rapidly developing countries (Jambeck, Geyer, Wilcox, Siegler, Perryman, Andrady, Narayan, & Law, 2015). This is attributed to the fact that these rapidly developing countries, which also have some of the lowest waste collection rates on the planet, do not have effective waste management systems, and if they do, these are at best informal waste recycling activities (Gugssa, 2012). There is going to be an increase in plastic debris entering the oceans if effective waste collection mechanisms are not implemented and more re-use and recycling initiatives encouraged (Jambeck et al., 2015).

The waste management methods adopted depend on the waste stream, equipment capacity, finance, among others. Sustainable solid waste management is a major concern and the general attitude of individuals to waste as well as the adoption of specific policies that address waste streams is necessary to effectively manage the waste generated (Quartey, Tosefa, Danquah, & Obrsalova, 2015). Incineration as a method of plastic waste management releases carbon dioxide into the air, which is a greenhouse gas. It is therefore neither environmentally friendly nor sustainable to incinerate plastic waste. Similarly, landfilling of plastic waste is not recommended as plastic is non-biodegradable (Quartey et al., 2015).

Plastic waste represents a valuable resource, which can be profitably ploughed back into the economy and the venture into plastic waste recovery has been ongoing since the 1990s by community based organizations that are in part propelled by a general lack of employment and high poverty levels (Republic of Kenya, 2010). In Watamu, recycling machines were donated to the Eco-world (formerly Watamu Community Solid Waste Management and Recycling Enterprises) to enable them to recycle plastic materials to deal with plastic waste menace and thereby promote a clean environment for both the locals and tourists. This would thereby not only enable the Eco-world to earn income from the recycling activity but also alleviate poverty through employment of locals.

Much of the plastic waste in East Africa is littered on public places, dumped at illegal sites and blocks drainage and sewer systems. As such plastic waste affects public health, water and sewerage services and tourism, among others. Mismanagement of landfills could cause either the escape of plastic waste or the escape of landfill leachate containing the chemicals associated with plastic (European commission, 2011a). Moreover, informal recycling techniques especially in developing countries can lead to the release of dioxins into the environment for instance, the burning of plastic coated wires to obtain metal (European commission, 2011a). Short-term exposure to dioxins may result in skin lesions and patchy darkening of the skin and altered liver function. The worst and typical representative of dioxins is the 2,3,7,8- Tetrachlorodibenzo – p – dioxin (TCCD) that causes a condition in the skin called chloracne which resembles severe acne due to exposure to chlorinated chemicals (Ju & Zouboulis, 2013). Long-term exposure to dioxins impairs the immune system. It also affects the development of the nervous, the endocrine systems and reproductive organs especially development of sex organs in the foetus (Ithula, 2012).

Plastic waste often finds its way to the sea where it causes entanglement (such as when fishing nets and ropes are abandoned or lost in the sea) and ingestion when plastic items are confused for food by marine animals leading to digestive complications and ultimately death (Derraik, 2002; Gregory, 2009). The harm brought about by ingestion of plastic materials will vary from one animal to another depending on their digestive system, the quantity and type of plastic ingested as well as the developmental stage of the animal (European commission, 2011a). Juveniles will be more at risk because they cannot discriminate between suitable food items (Gerpe, Rodríguez, Moreno, Bastida, & Moreno, 2002), and sometimes parents will accidently feed plastic to offspring.

Plastics have been said to produce toxic substances (such as dioxins) that can be linked to cancer as well as medical complications in the reproductive system as they are hormone disruptors (Soffar, 2015; Verma, Vinoda, Papireddy, & Gowda, 2016). They contain chemicals or additives to give it certain properties (Hansen et al., 2013) that make them ideal for various applications, for example bisphenol A is used to make polycarbonate plastics such as refillable plastic water bottles, cell phones, CDs and DVDs (Global Industry Group, 2002). Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers to make plastics more flexible such as in detergents, raincoats, personal-care products like shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). Brominated flame retardants are used in plastic applications such as electronics, carpets, paints and kitchen appliances and are highly fat-soluble (Janssen,

2005). Bisphenol A (4,4’-(propane-2,2-diyl)diphenol), phthalates and brominated flame retardants have been linked to various health problems in human beings such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, sperm count decreases, miscarriage, obesity, allergies, impairments in the development of the reproductive and nervous system and type 2 diabetes (European commission, 2011a).

In Kenya, most people are not able to access waste collection services and it is common to find plastic waste at disposal sites and open areas (Oyake-Ombis, 2016). In addition, the throw- away culture has thrived in the Kenyan society due to the fact that most plastic items are relatively cheaper than items made from other materials (Aurah, 2013a). As a result, the plastic waste menace has become a problem in all counties in Kenya. In Watamu, Kilifi county, data collected from the annual international beach clean-ups have indicated that in Watamu beaches, the most common types of plastic waste found along the beach constituting marine debris are small plastic pieces, polystyrene, plastic bottle caps, plastic bottles and flip flops (Trott, 2015b). As a result, out of the turtles brought to Watamu Turtle Watch Conservation for rehabilitation each year, 15% are harmed by plastic (Jena, 2017) leading to death arising from digestive complications (Plate 1.1). Although most of the waste in Watamu beaches is washed ashore from other countries in the Southwest Indian Ocean due to the nature of ocean currents, there is still a considerable amount that is as a result of poor waste collection and disposal (Trott, 2015a). Watamu being a peri-urban centre, has a lot of economic activities occurring such as businesses, fishing, and tourism that are likely to generate plastic wastes that end up in the beaches. However, there are still a number of informal actors and formal industrial actors have come up to handle waste collection and recycling (Oyake-Ombis, 2016).

Statement of the Problem
Marine debris is a problem along the Kenyan coast. Non-biodegradable wastes such as plastics often find their way into the oceans, polluting the beaches and threatening vulnerable marine life. Along the beaches and in the streets of Watamu it is common to find plastic bottles, sweet wrappers, broken glass and plastic bags. There has been growth of plastic use in Kenya, which has resulted to more plastic waste. Plastic waste is no longer an urban problem confined to urban towns but an environmental problem throughout the country. Watamu, being an important breeding ground for the critically endangered green, hawksbill, olive ridleys, loggerheads and leatherbacks turtles, is affected by plastic waste. There have been cases of plastic ingestion (which causes digestive complications) and entanglement by domestic animals, turtles and other marine animals such as humpback whales, which in most cases has led to their death. In addition, the coral formations in Watamu, which are said to be the best in East Africa, are also affected by poor plastic waste management. Moreover, the burning of plastic waste is linked to heart diseases, respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema and causes rashes, nausea or headaches, and damages the nervous system. While most plastics are regarded as nontoxic (Polyvinyl chloride, PVC, being an important exception), they are unstable, and may decompose and release hazardous substances under the influence of light, heat or mechanical pressure. The monomers, from which polymers are made, may be released and may affect human health such as styrene, used in the manufacture of polystyrene (PS), which affects the central nervous system and has been linked to cancer. The huge quantities of plastic waste that are usually collected are not only an eyesore but also pose a problem to tourism in the area by reducing the aesthetic value. This affects the locals who are heavily reliant on the tourism sector. Most of the studies on waste management have focussed generally on solid waste and hazardous waste. There is little information available on studies done in Kenya on plastic waste, especially looking at the social aspect of plastics in terms of usage by households and management. Moreover, studies that have looked at plastic waste usage and disposal have been in major cities and have concentrated on plastic bags and not looked at the disposal of other types of plastics as well. Research has been done for micro plastics in seawater and sediments in Gazi Bay, South Coast of Kenya, which showed that there is a high degree of pollution. Coastal waters in Kenya are therefore polluted with plastic debris and it is important to examine the possible sources of these plastic waste, amongst which are disposal by households. There was therefore need for this research to be done to assess the characteristics, disposal methods and management of plastic waste in Watamu, Kilifi County, Kenya.

Broad Objective
The main objective of the study was to contribute towards an understanding of the plastic waste disposal practices by assessing the characteristics, disposal methods and management of plastic waste in Watamu, Kilifi County, Kenya.

Specific Objectives
i. To characterize the plastic waste in Watamu, Kilifi county, as well as their streams.

ii. To assess the factors influencing level of knowledge, attitude and perception among the general public with respect to plastic waste disposal.

iii. To determine the factors that influence plastic waste disposal methods.

iv. To assess and describe the existing plastic waste management methods in the study area.

Research Questions
i. How can plastic waste produced in the study area be characterised?

ii. What factors influence the level of knowledge, attitude and perception of locals on plastic waste disposal and the management?

iii. What factors influence plastic waste disposal methods?

iv. What are the existing plastic waste management methods in the study area?

Significance and Justification of the Study
This project was significant as it contributed to ongoing activities aimed at ensuring that all people’s right to a clean and healthy environment is protected as stated in Article 42 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. This is essentially through proper management of plastic waste. The National Environmental Management Authority through the Kenyan Parliament, passed a bill on 28th February 2017 that banned the manufacture, use and importation of all plastic carrier bags in Kenya (NEMA, 2017). The study, however, was carried out before the Act came into force on 28th August 2017. However, the ban only covers plastic carrier bags which are represented by 25% of the plastics manufactured in the country (KNCPC, 2006). Hence, the Kenyan population still have to deal with the problem of plastic waste, which also constitutes other forms of plastics other than plastic carrier bags such as plastic bottles, food wrappings, and sweet wrappings. Therefore, before the ban of plastic carrier bags, the study contributed to Vision 2030 under the social pillar in the environmental sector (Government of Kenya, 2007). This ban covers only the manufacture, use and importation of plastic carrier bags and not all plastic items. One of the flagship projects that were rolled out in 2012 was the Plastic Bags Initiative which sought to tighten the regulations to limit production and usage of environmentally-detrimental plastic bags (Government of Kenya, 2007). However, with the current ban, the study was significant in justifying the reasons for banning plastic carrier bags as well as highlighting other types of plastics that are also a cause of concern.

The study contributed to activities aimed at attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 adopted by the United Nations such as goal 12, which aims at ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. The study findings helped in activities aimed at achieving one of the specific targets of goal 12 that is substantially reducing waste generation by prevention, reduction, recycling and re-use by the year 2030. The project contributed towards ongoing activities targeting the protection of marine and coastal ecosystems by contributing to the reduction of plastic litter that gets to the oceans through proper plastic waste management. It therefore helped activities aimed at attaining goal 14, which protects life below water.

The study findings are of benefit to investors and other entrepreneurs as it provides them with information on the opportunities available in terms of plastic recycling which will contribute to economic growth in the country and help achieve goal 8 of the SDGs that is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. This will in turn help in reducing poverty, which is a current problem in Kilifi county, and worse in Watamu. The academia will also benefit from the study, as they will be able to get information on the status of plastic waste in Kenya, as well as get insight for further research in areas of plastic waste management.

Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study area covered Watamu ward and focused on the characteristics, disposal methods and management of plastic waste in Watamu, Kilifi County, Kenya. The scope involved the landscape of plastic waste in Watamu (location of the plastic waste), the players in plastic waste production and management, as well as the opportunities in plastic waste recycling. This is necessary because there has been a problem of solid waste management in Kenya, and more so plastic waste which is non-biodegradable. The study took place between June 2017 and August 2017.

i. Illiteracy was a limiting factor as some of the respondents were not be able to fill in the questionnaires. This was mitigated by the use of a local educated research assistant who assisted in the collection of data from the study area.

ii. There was also language barrier, which affected communication between the researcher and the respondents. The local educated research assistant assisted in translation.

Assumptions of the Study
i. The households selected was a true representation of the plastic waste disposal and management practices in Watamu.

ii. Responses from respondents in Watamu ward were true, honest and transparent.

iii. There was a relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable.

Definition of Terms and Concepts
Characteristics: This term has been operationalized to encompass the disposers of plastic waste as well as the locations of plastic waste

Composition: In this study, this term has been operationalized to mean the types of plastic waste that are discarded by households

Culture: In this study, this term has been operationalized to mean the social characteristics of the respondents such as beliefs and customs

Disposal methods: This term has been used in the study to reefer to how individuals discarded their plastics after its initial use

Disposer: This term has been operationalized to encompass people or institutions that pollute the environment through improper plastic waste disposal methods

Knowledge, Attitude and Perception: In this study, these three terms were operationalized to refer to the education and awareness of respondents on matters to do with plastic waste disposal

Location: This term has been operationalized to encompass the area in which respondents were stationed, in terms of urban and rural areas

Management of Plastic Waste: In this study, this term has been operationalized to encompass the means used by households to manage their plastic waste such as by taking for recycling or by re-using.

Plastic waste: In this study plastic waste was operationalized to mean the most commonly disposed synthetic polymers that were being discarded by households

Segregation: This referred to the separation of plastics from other types of solid wastes generated at the households

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 80 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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