WasteAid is one of six organisations that have been awarded funding through The International Circular Plastic Flagship Projects Competition, facilitated by the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Through the funding, WasteAid is pioneering a feasibility study on developing a circular economy alongside expert partners, The University of Portsmouth and The Department of Agriculture Rural Development Land and Environmental Affairs (DARDLEA), in Mpumalanga, South Africa. This project will be focusing on three challenges centred around plastic pollution: reducing the littering of flexible packets, understanding where there is a lack of knowledge and operational resources in collections through to processing; and stimulating end-markets in Mpumalanga for these recyclable materials.

In places like Mpumalanga with minimal waste collection, littering is a huge problem that not only impacts the environment, but also public health. With little to no options for disposing of these materials, they often end up entering waterways and eventually harming marine life. Open burning is still a predominant option chosen to avoid the problems of litter, but not only are the emissions harmful to climate change, the pollutants also pose a risk to lung health for local communities.

Alongside the University of Portsmouth, WasteAid will be testing participatory approaches to drive improved source segregation of waste at a household level. This will raise awareness of the issues caused by the litter of flexible plastics and encourage people to separate their waste for recycling.

During a field visit to Mpumalanga, possible points of intervention to improve recycling rates were identified, and representatives from WasteAid and the University of Portsmouth had the opportunity to identify creatives and work with them to co-design behaviour change campaigns.

Together with local partner DARDLEA, WasteAid will be supporting to increase the collection and processing of the segregated waste on the ground. By stimulating these areas in the waste value chain, WasteAid and DARDLEA will then work with local processors to develop their capacity, which in turn will allow for recovered materials to stay in the local economy – promoting circularity and closing the loop.

Michelle Wilson, Circular Economy Network Director for WasteAid said: “We are honoured to be one of the projects selected to be part of the Plastics Challenge Competition and look forward to working with the University of Portsmouth and the local Municipality in South Africa to test methods that will improve the recovery rates of recycled plastic as well as closing the loop on materials locally

WasteAid is committed to supporting the setup of systems that reduce the impacts of waste, improve local knowledge and build capacity for collection through to end markets. Incorporating circularity in waste management allows us to drive people-orientated solutions to improve livelihoods and progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in low-income communities.

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About WasteAid

  • WasteAid is a leading international development organisation on a mission to tackle the global waste crisis. 2 billion people do not have their waste collected and 3 billion lack a decent disposal site, leading to the spread of disease and polluting the air, land, rivers and oceans.
  • WasteAid works with governments and communities in low-income countries to address the root causes of climate change and marine plastic pollution.
  • WasteAid shares waste management knowledge and skills; trains people to become self-employed recycling entrepreneurs; and influences decision-makers and the donor community to increase investment in waste management.

About WRAP

  • WRAP is a climate action NGO working around the globe to tackle the causes of the climate crisis and give the planet a sustainable future. Our vision is a thriving world in which climate change is no longer a problem. We believe that our natural resources should not be wasted and that everything we use should be re-used and recycled. We bring together and work with governments, businesses and individuals to ensure that the world’s natural resources are used more sustainably. Our core purpose is to help tackle climate change and protect our planet by changing the way things are produced, consumed and disposed of.
  • Our work includes: UK Plastics PactCourtauld Commitment 2030Textiles 2030 and the citizen campaigns Love Food Hate WasteLove Your ClothesClear on Plastics and Recycle Now. We run Food Waste Action Week and Recycle Week.

About UKRI

  • Launched in 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
  • UKRI brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
  • Their nine councils work together in innovative ways to deliver an ambitious agenda, drawing on great depth and breadth of expertise and the enormous diversity of their portfolio.


Contact: Rose Bradbury, Senior Fundraising & Communications Officer, WasteAid. Email:

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