Towards a Circular Economy: A Review on Asbestos Waste Management Regulations in Kenya
Kenya banned the use of asbestos in 2006, given its carcinogenic effects. Consequently, regulatory and institutional guidelines have been established to ensure the safe disposal of hazardous material. Yet, Kenya still uses 10% of its national health allocations to treat asbestos-related infirmities. The goal of this article is to review the policy guidelines for disposal of asbestos and assess its robustness as a measure of socio-environmental risk reduction. The study utilises a systematic review of policy guidelines on asbestos, air, and water quality regulations against their implementation reviewed in Environmental Impact Assessment reports from 2013 to 2021. Studies assessing thermal and chemical treatment processes for asbestos are reviewed to assess the processes involved and acquire information based on efficiency in terms of cost, technological applicability, and minimal environmental effects. The review shows that more risks are inherent from landfilling, which is considered safe in the regulations. Examples include compromised standards of disposal and unforeseen risks arising from geologic activity that may create channels for leaching and other exposure pathways. This review proposes that the policy guidelines should ‘rethink’ and adopt conversion of the substance through processes such as dissolution in acids (and) or thermal conversion processes. The processes guarantee the elimination of the fibres and yield by-products that can be further processed, namely, glass and fertilisers. Additionally, they reduce waste and relieve landfills while optimising land use. Despite the high initial costs, the merits of the process offer significant trade-offs. There is a need for comprehensive data collection, especially on volume, detailed geophysical information, type of Asbestos Containing Material and coherence of policy guidelines. This sets precedence for the adoption of a circular economy which Kenya is determined to embrace. Also, it will present an opportunity for research and innovation that will contribute to a global knowledge base.
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