Burkina Faso: Protecting the Environment by Profiting from Garbage

Burkina Faso’s first plastic recycling centre is paving the way for a new kind of development project. It provides a money earner to the poor while tackling environmental pollution. Local industry also benefits – the recycled plastic granules cost half the price of importing new plastic from abroad.

Date issued: 12 January 2007 | Size/duration: 00:02:17 (3.8MB)
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Plastic litter, scattered by wind and rain across Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. 20,000 tonnes are produced each year. It’s a major hygiene problem for humans, and a lethal meal for grazing animals.

Elderly woman, plastic waste collector

If I collect a lot over two weeks I can make 1500 francs.

That’s about 3 US dollars. A valuable income for Ouagadougou’s poorest. They sell their pickings to the city’s first plastic recycling centre that opened in 2005.

The centre is the brain child of Andrea Micconi who works with the Italian NGO, LVIA. Based on his studies at the International Labour Organisation’s training centre in Turin, Italy, he came up with a business plan that won a financial award from the World Bank. The project quickly won support from local authorities and Italian donors.

Andrea Micconi, Coordinator of the Piedmont NGOs Consortium and LVIA consultant

The project has two aims: first to help stop the degradation of Burkina’s environment. Second is to alleviate poverty.

Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries. The project works by creating an economic incentive to collect plastic waste. The recycled product can be sold to local businesses at half the price of imported plastic.

Margueritte Ovempeko Kabore, President, Women’s Association for the Recycling of Plastic Waste

We have to work hard cleaning and sorting the plastic, recycling four to five tonnes every month, so we can cover our salary and maintenance costs.

Washed, sorted and ground down into granules, so far, the centre has sold 50 tons of recycled plastic, worth $40,000 dollars. It is self-sustaining and provides jobs for the association of women who run the centre.

They work with a local company to make affordable school rulers and are looking for other partners.

School girl reading to classroom (French)

Made from 100% recycled plastic in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

For these children a visit to the center shows them why recycling rules. It’s an example that the rest of Ouagadougou is starting to follow.....