In April, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), members of which include Shell, Exxon, Total, DuPont and Dow, proposed investments in recycling in Kenya, provided that the recipient country accepts US plastic waste. Kenya would get about 500 million tonnes of plastic waste exports from the US per year.
Until January 2018, most of the world’s plastic waste was sent to China. Beijing decided that the environmental risks were not worth it and refused to continue. That led to plastic exports to Africa quadrupling in 2019.
But lack of infrastructure and rapid urbanisation mean Africa faces challenges just in managing its own solid waste. Researchers led by Jenna Jambeck have estimated that Africa’s total mismanaged plastic waste may more than double from 4.4 million metric tons in 2010 to 10.5 million metric tons in 2025.