In a world where the reduction of waste is becoming central for the national agendas, many African Countries get often under the spotlight. Their growing economies, together with the exponential rise of their population and consumption, put at the center of the debate the need of developing proper waste management systems.
No exception for Tanzania, where the National Bureau of Statistics estimate an urban waste production of 10 tons per day, 90% of which are not collected. 60% of these waste come from private consumption and, without a proper waste management system in place, they are either buried or burnt (source:Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics).
Just few days ago, the Government announced a huge investment, with the support of the government of Netherlands, to create a modern collection site in Dar es Salaam. This action, together with the ban of the single-use plastic bags announced and implemented last year, may be considered as a good step ahead. However, as much as all these initiatives are of high relevance, the efforts put by private companies and enterprises to bring an impact are also important.
In these past few years I have been following with great interest some few projects and businesses related to recycling in different sectors. One of the biggest and most common ground of action is the recycling and upcycling of waste for the production of home décor and accessories. Among the producers in this area there are the well-known “Chako” and “Made by Africraft”, both working with glass, wood and plastic and recently knowing the footlights in the international market. Worthy to be mentioned is also “The green room”, a local company working with hundreds of local artisans and promoting an environmental-friendly lifestyle. Among the other things, they design and produce wonderful furniture collections completely made of recycled wood.
But among the stories that have really aroused my curiosity, there is the one of “Arena Recycling”: Hellen, the founder, is a very young Tanzanian lady who has started a business for producing building supplies (mainly building blocks and outdoor tiles) having as main raw material the plastic bottles, collected in the roads of Dar es Salaam. Her production center has started to expand and currently she has also settled a collection point for plastic bottles.
These are just few example of a sector that is attracting the attention of more and more stakeholders day after day. However, we are still quite far by the promotion of a real virtuous circle: the reduction of production of plastic, rather than its reuse, surely is a key point (worldwide, indeed!). And this may constitute a great opportunity, here in Tanzania: the scarce availability of packaging, that currently is one of the threat for the development of the agrofood industry, may become an opportunity if someone will be able to develop and produce on site environmental-friendly packaging.