Cotton made in Africa Takes On Plastic Waste in Africa


New Project in Mozambique

Kenya, Rwanda, and now Tanzania: Many countries in Africa have already banned plastic bags. In Germany, on the other hand, it appears that a similar ban will take effect only in 2020. Plastic waste is a big problem in Africa, and Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) introduced a new project in April 2019 to address this issue.

A collection system for empty plastic pesticide containers was created in Mozambique in close collaboration with local cotton company JFS. In April, the company has established 220 collection points for people to drop off their used containers, which it then sells to a regional recycling company. The resulting sales revenue benefit the village residents, who receive a small amount of money for every container they turn in. Any additional profit flows back into the project, ensuring its continuation  in the long term. This programme offers up to 20,000 farmers from the surrounding villages an opportunity to supplement their income while protecting the environment by properly disposing of the containers which will be recycled by a local company.

The collection points are staffed by over 220 women, including cotton farmers and others from the village communities. They have been trained as eco-activists and have learnt how to handle the canisters safely. For this  task they were provided with special equipment including t-shirts, training materials, face masks, gloves, and soap for washing up after work.

The project is gaining publicity thanks to radio shows, an explanatory video, and, naturally, the eco-activists themselves. As a result, the farmers and the other village residents have become more cognisant of how they deal with their plastic waste, learning how important proper disposal is for them and the environment. Venancio Airone is glad to be among the eco-activists . The cotton farmer reports how well the project has been received by his colleagues, adding, “And it is good for me because I dispose of the containers differently now, too. This is much better than burning them or throwing them into the river.”

28-year-old cotton farmer Elis Pedro Manuel sees the collection and recycling project as a step in the right direction as well. “It is good for us farmers and for our soil. In the past, we would have to bury or burn the containers. Today, we know how harmful that is for our environment and how it makes our soil less fertile”, she says.

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