Pursuing a circular economy for plastics in Africa
Dow, the materials science company, is pursuing collaborations with local partners to transform the plastic waste challenge in Africa and support local organisations to improve waste collection and the livelihoods of people across the continent.
Tackling plastic waste is a challenge the entire world faces, but across Africa, the struggle is particularly acute. The situation varies considerably across each country, with often patchy infrastructure coupled with an informal system of waste collection and complex socio-economic factors.
Collaborating with innovators
“A critical part of solving the plastics waste crisis is enabling a closed-loop system for waste, which we couldn’t do without the innovative local enterprises that enable us to scale solutions that benefit the environment and local communities.”
– Sami Mainich, Regional Director Dow North & West Africa.
Since 2019, Dow has partnered with Mr. Green Africa, a pioneering force in the recycling sector in Kenya. Together, they have scaled Mr. Green’s fair-trade plastic waste sourcing model. The initiative empowers waste pickers, paying them a fair wage to collect plastic waste from the environment, and sending it to recycling centres so it can be processed and reused. The partnership has created a new market for flexible plastic waste while making sorting materials more effective in the region.
Across West Africa, Dow recently expanded its Project REFLEX following a successful pilot phase. The project educates and supports local waste pickers to collect and recycle flexible plastic waste which can then be used in new, quality packaging applications. Our hope is that the education, materials and support to the local communities and businesses in the region will result in long-term sustainable collection for flexible packaging.
Dow’s collaborations extend beyond waste collection partners too. In South Africa, Dow is supporting research studies to incorporate the use of recycled plastic into roads. Trials are underway to advance the process of building plastic roads to promote more circular infrastructure and provide practical applications towards which we can divert plastic waste.
The future is circular
Dow is proud of its partners and progress to date in Africa, but recognises there is a long journey ahead. Dow invites like-minded collaborators, businesses, NGOs, and governments, to join its efforts, and share resources and expertise to help create a truly circular economy for plastic that works for the planet, and for us all.