We’re now halfway through implementing the plastic recycling programme in Douala, Cameroon, funded by our incredible network of supporters and match funded by the UK Government. We wanted to take this time to update you with the progress of the project and the impact that your money is making.

During our Widening the Net Appeal between May and July 2019, WasteAid supporters raised an amazing £168,000, including £80,076 of matched funding from the UK government.

The project kicked off in January 2020 with the aim of reaching 164 unemployed people in Douala, empowering them to make a positive impact on plastic pollution in the city and the Wouri Estuary. The first cohort of interns were recruited and welcomed by our commercial partner REDPLAST. They have received training in health and safety, waste collection and recycling, awareness raising and products sales.

The challenge: uncollected waste in the streets and rivers of Douala

Plastic pollution in Douala is at crisis point. Without a waste collection service, many people have no alternative than to dump their waste in the streets and riverbeds of the city.

People living alongside rivers full of waste
Rivers full of plastic waste flow through Douala and out to the Atlantic Ocean

Much of the economic activity in Douala takes place in the city’s markets. Traders bring their wares to sell at the market, and the waste accumulates at central points. Waste from the markets is comprised of food waste, a range of different types of plastic packaging and products, and even medical waste. The rotting food waste attracts flies that spread disease.

Daily life in the markets of Douala, with little waste collection or sorting
People sell food next to overspilling mixed waste containers

WasteAid and partners are introducing a new waste collection system

WasteAid has an agreement with the Town Hall of the 3rd Arrondissement in Douala to access the markets and establish a separate plastic waste collection programme.

Trained participants are collecting plastic waste from market stalls, streets and drainage channels, where it causes blockages and collects stagnant water, providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes that can carry malaria and dengue. They are also engaging with market vendors and visitors to raise awareness of the negative impacts of poorly managed waste and encourage waste segregation.

Claudette has become a plastic recycling champion
Blocked drains attract mosquitoes and flies that spread disease
Removing plastic from drains helps reduce flood risk in the city
Now everyone can play their part in making the city cleaner

Preparing collected plastic for recycling

Once the collected plastic waste reaches the REDPLAST site, it is sorted and weighed, and prepared to enter the value chain. Some types of plastic can be sold to recyclers, whereas others are processed on-site to make new products like paving tiles.

Sacks of PET bottles are unloaded from the truck
Some of the trainees have been learning to make paving tiles from LDPE plastic waste
The sacks of plastic are weighed and recorded
Some of the team from REPLAST, WasteAid's commercial partner in Douala

Recycling heroes spotlight

Damaris, WasteAid trainee in Douala

“I am unemployed and have a disability, so in a difficult financial situation. I want to be useful to society. This training will help me gain knowledge to keep the environment clean and to make products from plastic waste.”

Damaris, WasteAid trainee, Douala 2021

Damaris, WasteAid trainee plastic recycling champion (Douala, 2021)

Didier sorts through plastic waste in Douala

“This training should allow me to show that I want to be useful to others and to myself.”

Didier, WasteAid trainee, Douala 2021

Didier, WasteAid trainee plastic recycling champion (Douala, 2021)

This project was funded by hundreds of WasteAid supporters, and the British government. It shows that together we can create inclusive, fair and dignified livelihoods in waste collection and recycling, keeping city streets cleaner and preventing marine plastic pollution.

If you would like to see more sustainable initiatives like this, please consider supporting WasteAid.

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