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Award for African company pioneering plastic repurposing and recycling

The aim is to help reduce the overwhelming plastic blight across Africa.

Curse of plastic: The beach at Hann Bay, a densely-populated district of the Senegalese capital Dakar
Curse of plastic: The beach at Hann Bay, a densely-populated district of the Senegalese capital Dakar - Copyright AFP Anatolii STEPANOV
Curse of plastic: The beach at Hann Bay, a densely-populated district of the Senegalese capital Dakar - Copyright AFP Anatolii STEPANOV

A plastics waste collection and recycling project (the Deekali project) in Senegal is the first in Africa to attain registration under VERRA’s plastics credits standard, which works in a similar way to carbon offset credit programs.

As a result of the scheme, announced by the Africa Carbon & Commodities (ACC), companies can buy plastics credits to offset their plastic footprint. The aim is to help reduce the overwhelming plastic blight across Africa. ACC is especially active in terms of promoting the circular economy.

A secondary aim is to create meaningful employment. In terms of offering employment opportunities, these include the “One Employee, One Roof” scheme, which seeks to deploy resources in order to enable pre-financing of ecological and affordable housing for the wider community.

The milestone of achieving the environmental accreditation is also important given Senegal’s status as a Least Developed Country, as well as due to the levels of plastic pollution on land and in the surrounding seas (not east 521-kilometer coastline). The overriding goal to remove plastics from the environment or to subject plastic materials to recycling.

The plastic problem in Senegal is partly due to an inadequate infrastructure for managing waste together with poorly or non-enforced regulations. As a comparator, while the country has a fraction of the U.S. population, it produces twice the volume of the U.S.

The Deekali project brings together hundreds of plastic waste collectors and three recycling facilities. The collectors are paid to remove the plastic waste, which is now be recycled into chips and granules to replace virgin plastic. The Deekali project also produces plastic ‘lumber’ that is the basis for school desks, chairs, tables, and so on.

The Dakar based organisation has sought to find ways to collect, recycle, and sell recycled plastic to manufacturers. In all, a total of 34 projects around the world are listed on the VERRA directory, with most currently going through the approval and registration process. For every verified credit, one ton of plastic is removed from the environment or recycled in order to meet the VERRA standard.

The Deekali Plastics Project underwent a two- year VERRA review process followed by an independent one year audit to assess the necessary social and environmental requirements. The audit process also included the monitoring of the plastic waste from its source to its end destination.

The project seeks to eliminate plastic waste from dumps, landfills, public areas, beaches, and households in Senegal.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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