Posted on :Wednesday , 22nd September 2021
The hunt for a brand owner partner, which partners Dow and Mr Green Africa think would finish the loop by enabling the use of recyclable flexible packaging in real applications, has begun in the second phase of a collaboration formed to remove inequities in recycling infrastructure in Kenya.
The alliance, which was officially established in November 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya during Dow's Project Butterfly event, aims to promote awareness of the plastics waste issue, influence positive behaviour, and engage in waste disposal and recycling programmes.
Until now, the project has influenced positive change in Kenyan communities where a lack of waste infrastructure has resulted in plastics waste ending up in rivers and informal dumps, as well as creating a market for flexible plastics packaging, allowing workers in the informal waste sector to earn an additional income.
The partnership has not only created a new market for flexible plastics waste, but it has also made sorting materials more effective in the region by incentivizing waste pickers with a higher, stable income and establishing sorting centres that allow waste pickers to bring plastics waste in for payment and then have this waste processed in recycling centres.
In fact, it is estimated that approximately 30 tonnes of flexible plastics waste is processed through Dow and Mr Green Africa's waste stream every two months in Kenya, which would not have been collected previously because it is deemed harder to recycle due to its more complex nature than rigid plastics.
In addition, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project shifted its focus to utilising technology to facilitate residential collection through a brand-new app developed by Dow's technical team and implemented locally by Mr Green Africa. Consumers may use the app to better sort and separate their household plastic garbage before scheduling it to be collected by Mr Green Africa from their doorstep and processed through the plastics recycling system. The software has so far been successfully deployed in several Nairobi families, with hopes to expand its reach in 2021.
â€œDow is working in conjunction with communities in Kenya to empower local people to help tackle the plastic waste challenge,â€ said Adwoa Coleman, Dow's Africa sustainability and advocacy manager for packaging and speciality plastics. We believe that plastic is far too important a resource to be discarded or disposed of in landfills. We can make considerable progress in solving Africa's plastics problem by taking a leadership position and cooperating with organisations like Mr. Green Africa, which are already assisting local waste management infrastructure.â€
â€œEnsuring a circular economy for plastics requires the entire waste recovery value chain to work together, and we are pleased to have the continued support from Dow to ensure we can continue working towards our shared vision for Kenya and the wider continent to resolve the plastics waste issue,â€ said Kieran Smith, chief executive and co-founder of Mr Green Africa.
This collaboration is in line with Dow's global Stop The Waste sustainability goal, which calls for one million tonnes of plastics to be collected, reused, or recycled globally by 2030. Dow is likewise dedicated to completing the loop on plastic waste, with a goal of making all of its packaging products reusable or recyclable by 2035.
Dow wants to recover at least 5,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025; include flexible packaging in the recyclable waste stream â€“ not just rigids and PET, which are used to make many common household items like beverage bottles, clothing, and carpet fibre and are easily identifiable by waste pickers â€“ and take valuable waste plastics back and recycle them.