Wear a smile with… Justina Fernanda Afonso

14.01.2021

In 2019, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the local cotton company SAN-JFS developed a recycling project in Mozambique. This project motivates farmers to collect empty pesticide containers and return them to a collection station for further recycling. These so called “eco-collection points” are operated by women from local farming communities. The farmers as well as the women operating the eco-collection points receive a bonus payment for returned containers from the local cotton company. Within two years over 160,000 empty pesticide containers were collected and sent for recycling benefitting around 40,000 farmers from surrounding communities. We spoke with Justina Fernanda Afonso, one of the eco-activists, about her work.

We spoke with Justina Fernanda Afonso, one of the eco-activists, about her work.

You are an eco-activist. What is your main role?

My main function is to collect the leavings/empty plastic pesticide containers and deliver them to the cotton company SAN-JFS.

A collection system for empty plastic pesticide containers was created. How did you learn to deal with the plastic waste?

I learned to deal with the plastic waste after the training SAN-JFS was given, which in its content showed us that the poor management of plastic waste can cause almost irreparable damage to our environment, especially to our soil since the deterioration of plastic can take hundreds of years.

What do you think requires special attention when handling the pesticide containers?

When I’m doing my homework and a farmer arrives to deliver the garbage bottles, first I use my equipment (mask and gloves that I consider most important) and then I receive the waste bottles and confirm the quantity. I put them in the bin which is out of reach of children. Then I wash my hands with soap and water and register in the system the data, name of producer and quantity.

Do you have a special work equipment?

Yes, I have a capulana (typical african costume) and a shirt that identifies me as an eco-activist, the bin, the gloves and masks for protection.

What has improved through the collection system?

Before, people used the waste bottles for their cooking salt, others threw them in the river or buried them below ground, but after the training given by SAN-JFS and sensitization to our community, there is now an improvement in the physical appearance. Now you can no longer find abandoned containers in fields, ponds, wells and rivers, and in the environment in general.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I like to collect the leavings and see the farmers bring them back without running after them. This is satisfying for us as an eco-activist, for the company and for our environment.