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River Plastic Pollution Intervention

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  • River Plastic Pollution Intervention

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Our goal is to ensure that our activities in cleaning and greening brings a behavioral change that will address waste disposal from the household level.
Along with rapid population growth and urbanization, poor solid waste is emerging as public health risk in Kenya. According to the 2018 report by Urban Africa Risk Knowledge, up to 80% of plastic plus other waste that is generated by households in urban slum areas in Kenya is disposed poorly in rivers and illegal dumpsites. In Nairobi for instance, up to 2500 tons of waste (50%) generated daily remains uncollected which translates into widespread unsafe disposal in urban river systems.
The disposal of this waste in rivers and river banks has been linked to a wide range of risks including slowing down economic growth, higher incidences of diseases, environmental degradation, and deterioration of the quality of life. The poor disposal of waste in rivers has also resulted into vast amount of ‘plastic soups’ in the Marine environment since rivers are currently the major pathway for the flow of plastic wastes into marine environment.
This project was therefore initiated by Chemolex Limited to provide lasting solution to the marine plastic menace by:

1) Installing innovative plastic capture devices along dispersed locations of River Athi and its tributaries. In addition.

2) Collecting, analyzing and recording data on plastic and other waste captured by the plastic capture devices then utilizing the data to develop policy documents that can be shared with relevant government authorities to inform policy development regarding plastic waste.

3) Create awareness and sensitization within communities on integrated waste management that is centered on the 3Rs (Recycle, Reuse and Reduce). The community sensitization programs provide an opportunity to enlighten Kenyan households on wastes management at the household level.

4) Train and empower community-based organizations, as well as women and youth groups to develop valuable products from different types of waste thus enhancing resource recovery from plastic and other waste that is normally disposed in rivers.

5) Develop an elaborate recycling infrastructure that can recycle the plastic plus other waste that is captured and removed from the plastic capture devices.
Based on the 2019 report by International Energy Agency, 98% of rural population in Kenya still use wood, dung and charcoal in the traditional stoves for cooking. These households also use inefficient kerosene lamps for lighting purposes.

The use of the traditional stoves and lamps results into serious exposure to smoke which is responsible for various health issues. In Developing countries such as Kenya, the exposure to heating-combustion and lighting smokes currently contributes to 50000 deaths annually.

The use of these sources of energy also emits more than 80 million metric tons of carbon annually which is a key contributor to climate change. More than 300000 trees are also cut by these households for use in cooking purposes.

Even though solutions such as the use of briquettes have been proposed, many rural households still use firewood, charcoal, dung and paraffin for cooking and lighting because they are much cheaper and produces more heat.

In order to solve the above energy challenges, Chemolex Limited applies its patented advanced bio-conversion technology to produce clean and 60% more affordable multi-purpose biofuel that is used for cooking and lighting.

The biofuel is also used in powering motor bikes which is the popular means of transport in rural areas in Kenya. Currently, we use the invasive water hyacinth plant as the main raw material for the production of the multi-purpose biofuel that is supplied to households.

The advanced bio-conversion technology involves removing the invasive water hyacinth plant from L.Victoria, washing and drying the plants in an open air, crushing the plants into small pieces which are subjected to steam pre-treatment process.

The pre-treated water hyacinth is then subjected to microbial fermentation process where the multi-purpose biofuel is produced. We currently remove 10 tons of the invasive water hyacinth plants that are currently used to produce 23000 litres of the biofuel.
Solar Gen is a novel initiative that consists of portable solar powered generators that are designed to meet the energy demands of various households and business that are off grid and in rural households.
These generators are designed using different power ratings such as 75kVA, 375 kVA and 500 kVA to cater for the varying energy requirements by different households and business. The portable generators are incorporated with the hyper efficient solar panels and Lithium ion batteries.

The incorporation of the lithium ion battery technology increases the life expectancy of the portable generators to 15 years. The technology also increases the energy and power density in the solar powered generators thereby reducing its weight and improving its flexibility and mobility. Based on the pilot testing of the solar powered generators, it was revealed that the battery technology can withstand a wide range of temperature hence adaptable to varying weather conditions in most African countries.

The solar powered portable generator is incorporated with smart monitoring system (SMS) that can assess the run time of the battery system and the health of the entire system remotely thereby enabling the company to have a clear picture of the health and operations of the system.

Solar Gen project also integrates a smart pay as you go system in its business model that enables the households and businesses in off-grid community to acquire the portable smart solar powered generators at a cost of $45 then make a daily payment of between $1 and $2 per day depending on the power rating and the capacity of the system.

The Pay as You Go model ensures flexibility of the payment and efficient uptake of solar powered portable generators into this growing market, where unreliable and inefficient electricity distribution makes diesel powered generators the most viable option even though solar powered portable generators are cheaper to operate and maintain, cost a little less for the initial investment and are environmentally friendly. Also, the solar powered generators are more efficient than the existing diesel-based generators.

This initiative essentially involves an innovation of an existing technology to allow it operate in the market due to several barriers that make it not fit in the dynamics of the current market. In India and China for example, there are millions of solar powered generators already in the market with government subsidy leading to more purchases yearly.
Solar Gen therefore aim to remove the existing barriers such as inefficient battery technology and high cost of solar powered mobile generators by incorporating a highly efficient and durable lithium-based battery technology and flexible payment system that enables the households and businesses to access reliable and adequate power supply that can be used for domestic purposes and powering businesses.

The initiative further enhances the uptake of the technology by allowing businesses such as construction and entertainment companies to rent some of the solar powered mobile generators at a cost of $3 per day.

The renting option is available to businesses and entities that require efficient and reliable power for temporary business purpose.
The key component of the solar powered portable generator is the use of lithium ion battery technology that is incorporated with the fast-charging system.

The system enables the portable generator to produce electricity even with short durations of sunlight. This therefore enhances the convenience of using the system because it does not require the solar panel to be mounted on the rooftop and the portable generators can also be used anywhere without the worry of the time needed to charge the battery.

The portable generators can therefore be used in rented houses within the off-grid households as well as highly mobile businesses that require movements from one place to another. The solar powered generators are also designed to produce a minimum power output of 1200 Whr which therefore means that they can be used continuously by businesses and households for 15hours when fully charged.

To ensure that it powers businesses that operate 24/7, there is an optional extra lithium battery of 842Ah power rating that will be provided to the businesses when they request. The extra battery will allow the business owners to swap the fully charged battery for continuous operation.
Wajibika project is an initiative that was launched early 2020 inspired by a concern over the fast accumulating waste all around us that mostly end up in rivers largely as plastic waste. In a bid to offer solutions, Chemolex designed a plastic capturing device that will be stationed along Nairobi and Ngong Rivers.
This device ensures that plastic waste is captured and periodically removed by the youth working in these settlements where this programme in running that includes Kibera, Kariobangi and Tassia.

We realized that most plastic waste originates from households and industries. The #Wajibika initiative therefore seeks to influence behavior change by encouraging personal responsibility when it comes to waste.

Plastic pollution in rivers is a menace that can only be addressed sustainably if riparian households and industries are actively involved in proper management of plastic and other wastes at individual levels. To achieve this, we have introduced monthly clean up exercises in these informal settlements in a bid to create awareness on management of waste in general; while bettering our living spaces.

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Kariobangi Nairobi,Kenya

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