Kenya/ circular economy

The strategic sector cooperation between Denmark and Kenya on circular economy and waste management 2016-2027

Waste management site in Nakuru County, June 2023. Photo: Christina Anderskov

The main objective of the strategic sector cooperation (SSC) is to assist in accelerating Kenya’s transition towards a circular economy, with a focus on resource efficiency in industrial production and in the waste sector.

The project is funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and runs over a 10-year duration in three phases incl. a one year inception phase. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, implementation was interrupted between 2020-2022 and phase one and two extended. The three phases are:

2016-2021 phase 1

2021-2024 phase 2

2024-2027 phase 3

Waste management facility at household level in a compound in Nairobi, June 2023. Photo: Christina Anderskov


The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (DEPA) is the implementing partner on Danish side. DEPA works closely with the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry (MoECF), the implementing partner Kenyan EPA, NEMA, and the Royal Danish Embassy in Nairobi to support Kenya in their quest for a green, circular and sustainable development. On top of that, a wide range of stakeholders in both Kenya and Denmark are involved from both civil society, NGOs, universities and the private sector. The overall approach is to achieve the goals of the project through:

  • Sector focused dialogues on green, circular and sustainable transition and development.
  • Strategic advisory on legislation, regulation and administration.
  • Technical advisory regarding circular economy, waste management, extended producer responsibility (EPR) and environmental licensing, control and auditing.
  • Training, capacity development and applied research.
  • Simultaneously the project will support export enhancing initiatives and commercial potentials within the sector.
Danish minister of environment Magnus Heunicke and Kenyan minister Soipan Tuya at the Danish LOOP Forum April 2023 Photo: Curtesy of the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry (MoECF)


It is estimated, that Kenya generates between 3,000 to 4,000 tons of waste per day, a majority of which originates from urban areas. According to the World Bank, Nairobi generates between 2,000 to 2,500 tons of waste daily. Less than half of that amount is re- or upcycled. The rest ends up in more or less authorized landfills, or is dumped along roads or in streams and rivers, and some is burned causing air pollution.

With a growing population of app. 55 million people, yearly growth rates around 5-6 percent and a growing middle class, proper waste management is an urgent request from the Kenyan public and the Kenyan government.

At the same time the current waste management sector is to a large extend defined by being an unregulated economy employing waste pickers (especially women) and collectors who picks and sorts trash by hand. A higher degree of regulation of this sector can help the waste pickers and collectors to a more regulated work conditions and salaries, hence enhancing poverty alleviation.

On top of that, a transition to circular economy can create new business models and open op for both small scale and large-scale business innovations, enhancing green growth in the waste management sector.

Garment factory in Ruaraka Industrial Park, Nairobi June 2023. Photo: Christina Anderskov
Phase 2 of the strategic sector cooperation between Kenya and Denmark was signed December 2021. Photo: Thomas Emil Jensen


Specifically the SSC project is designed around a series of interlinked activities that include: 

  • Introduction of circular economy approaches in policy development
  • Assistance in greening of industrial park development (industrial symbiosis)
  • Exchange on Economic policy instruments for green growth 
  • Support the development of the first Kenyan County Solid Waste Management Act 
  • Support the development of extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations, incl. guideline development and implementation in counties
  • Enhance industry regulation and authority to industry collaboration, through: 
  • Assisting in revising enforcement & compliance mechanism between industries and authorities
  • Assisting in development of a management scheme for industry environmental data
  • Green growth thematic networking meetings and establishment an industry–regulator partnership
Group photo from the second EPR workshop on EPR guidelines with 75 participants, Nairobi June 2023. Photo: Curtesy of Cyclos/Drift consultants
The proximity of urban development and nature is striking in Kenya. Here a picture from Nairobi national park with Nairobi skyline in the background. Photo: Christina Anderskov