Plastics Recycling

Changing lives through education and empowerment while reducing plastic pollution

The mining town of Siguri, located in the Niger River basin area of Guinea, is highly populated as a result of the artisanal gold mining activities that take place. With around 1 million people based in the region, a vast amount of waste is generated – much plastic – which ends up in the environment.

This waste causes pollution of forests, rivers and watercourses, while gutters and ditches are filled with plastics. Agricultural lowlands and plains are covered with plastic waste, microplastics are found in the food chain, and plastics are burned with waste. Plastics are also found underground and contribute to drought. Waste plastics serve as nests and reproduction sites for diseases caused by insects and parasites.

Understanding the scale of plastic pollution

The Federation of Waste Managers of Guinea (FEGEDEG) initiated a project, co-funded by the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Guinea (UK Guinea), to better understand the scale of the plastic waste problem. To do this, FEGEDEG conducted a study on the problem of plastic waste in the area and then developed waste collection guides, which were translated into the national language.

How plastics recycling can make a difference to communities

  • The project also set out to support the resilience and empowerment of local populations in Siguri by:
  • developing a health, safety, hygiene and environment manual for collectors and managers of plastic waste.
  • training young and female professional collectors in techniques for collecting, sorting, processing and recovering plastic waste.
  • providing training to three cooperatives on income-generating activities (ecological bags, ecological table benches, ecological paving stones, shredded material and plastic granules).
  • improving collection and facilitate access to plastic waste deposits for recovery by setting up a green store. The green shop exchanges plastic waste for goods and services listed in our programs (soaps and ecological detergent, ecological bags, trash cans and other plastic items, rice bags, perfumes for women, television, etc.)
  • creating an ecological education club plus two ecological groups to inform, raise awareness and educate the population on environmental protection and plastic waste management.
  • registering two primary schools into an eco-school program, where the plastic waste sorted and collected from the schools will be recycled. The recycled plastic will be turned into ecological tables and benches and returned to the schools.
  • The project has created jobs and empowered vulnerable women and young people. Further, it supports the fight against poverty and improving the population’s living conditions through access to goods and services exchanged for plastic waste.

Long-term positive impact of plastics recycling

To sustain the project, FEGEDEG has set up a waste collection system where the collectors are trained, and the plastic waste collected is sorted and treated to create plastic deposits. Part of the processed plastic waste is sold to plastic recovery companies, while some are managed through on-site recovery and recycling.

FEGEDEG has signed a partnership agreement with the Town Hall of Siguri, alongside another agreement with the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which facilitates the integration into the specifications of products from the recovery and recycling of plastic waste.

Since the project started, positive benefits have included a reduction of plastic pollution in the environment and for marine biodiversity, thanks to more awareness of the damage it can cause and better behaviour in handling plastic waste. Integration into the office of the National Union of Orpartisans of Guinea, a secretariat on water, hygiene, sanitation and disasters, has given the initiative a further endorsement.

Facts and figures

  • Over 80 guides on the collection and management of plastic waste have been developed and shared.
  • One hundred-plus copies of health, safety, hygiene and environment manuals have been developed and shared with collectors and managers of plastic waste.
  • More than 100 professional plastic waste collectors were directly trained and equipped.
  • Three cooperatives were formed to recover plastic waste (ecological bags, ecological table benches, ecological paving stones, shredded material, and plastic granules).
  • A club and two ecological education groups were created.
  • The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and disaster waste management program has been developed in two schools.
  • Over 1,000 people have been made aware of the project.
  • More than 250 tonnes of plastic waste are collected each month.
  • Health and injury risks are reduced at the level of plastic waste collectors.
  • The level of plastic waste pollution is gradually decreasing.

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