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African technological innovators transform the value of plastic waste, But there are still holes.

A large proportion of the waste material that is disposed of on African beaches originates from industrialized, advanced countries. In 2010, the estimate was that around 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste that was not properly managed was found in seas and oceans in the oceans of Africa each year. A 2022 forecast puts this figure at around 17 million tons.

An increasing number of innovators and NGOs across the globe are taking on the challenge. They are working on innovative digital strategies to cut down on the amount of waste generated by plastic, as well as encouraging reuse and recycling of plastics. A growing number of African tech hubs are adopting sustainability principles into their business strategies.

In our latest report, we present the ongoing efforts and developments in the value chain of plastic. It consists of four stages that span from the conception of plastic materials to manufacturing usage, then use, and finally, the ending of life.

We discovered a variety of initiatives transforming the value chain for plastic into a more efficient, creative, and sustainable system. The majority of them aim to improve the identification of plastics, their sorting, transportation, collection, and recycling. Certain focus on earlier stages: the design and manufacturing of plastic items.

A holistic approach to the value chain towards a circular economy is crucial. Although the majority of plastic waste management efforts tend to concentrate on the usage and ending-of-life phases, greater attention needs to be paid to the design and manufacturing. Then, the issue of waste plastics begins.

The world is turning towards creating simpler and standard products that are easy to recycle or recycle.

Innovative researchers crack the code.

A Nigerian software company, Wecyclers, operates a rewards-for-recycling platform. It offers incentives to people and households living in communities with low income to earn money and extract the value of plastic waste that is recyclable.

With the help of the platform, the waste collectors are linked to an array of locally built Waste cargo cars. They make use of these vehicles to collect waste from subscriber households. They also reward households in proportion to the amount of waste they collect.

The discarded waste is then deposited at designated areas in Lagos city, which are then taken care of by recyclers in large quantities. These materials are sold to producers who transform them into products like tissue paper, bedding, stuffing plastic furniture, aluminum sheets, and nylon bags.

The impact is profound across a variety of levels. First, by connecting households who generate waste to the waste collection services in their neighborhood, The Wecycler model streamlines the process of collecting and sorting at the source, with virtually no cost to families. In addition, it helps households to reduce the risks to health that come with the accumulation of plastic waste and management mistakes and mismanagement, but also to generate revenue. In addition, it extends the final phase of the value chain of plastic by recycling and reusing.

The company is located in Uganda. Yo Waste is a startup company in the field of technology that has created an online, mobile solution that connects waste producers to the closest trash hauler in their area. Yo Waste improves the efficiency of waste collection and scheduling. It also assists waste collection companies in measuring the effectiveness of their trucks and provides recyclers with an easier way to access plastic waste.

In Zambia, Recyclebot connects waste sellers with buyers of waste through a crowdsourcing platform that combines waste according to type and location. In essence, the producers of plastic waste dispose of their waste at no cost, and buyers of scrap can save the costs of removal, storage, and transfer.

While these are great breakthroughs, the biggest challenge is expanding. The pace of progress is slower on this continent. Recycling companies that are starting up are also faced with challenges, such as a lack of funds and an undeveloped market for plastics that provides little growth opportunities and earning income.

A large portion of startup funds is provided through grants from local and international organizations. The majority of business investment is not pure, and government interventions are quite a ways behind.

What is the best way to do it?

To speed up the transition to a circular economy, the stakeholders across the spectrum of organizations must collaborate. These include cooperatives, NGOs, and think tanks, as well as communities. The current strategy to address plastic waste across the continent is a mess and not well coordinated. As efforts continue to create new ecosystems across a variety of countries, the key players are not always present.

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Jane S. King

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