Plastic waste has value in Mali – How can we create more jobs in the plastic recycling value chain?

By Sophie van den Berg, solid waste expert and plastic recycling adviser at WASTE

For the coming four years, WASTE and RUAF will be working together with SNV, ICCO and APEJ in the OJEM project to create jobs for young people (men and women) and returning migrants in Mali. The project is funded by the EU Trust Fund to contribute to the development of economic opportunities in horticulture and organic farming, agribusiness, handicrafts, solid waste management and food chains in urban agriculture.

WASTE and RUAF together with the local SNV-ICCO team are responsible for job creation in waste management, recycling, composting and food chains in urban agriculture. During my first visit in November 2017 to Bamako, the capital of Mali, I looked into the opportunities for job creation in waste management and more specifically, in the plastic recycling value chain.

After visiting various waste dumps in the city and waste transfer stations one thing became clear: plastic waste has a value in Bamako! Plastic bags, broken plastic items, plastic bottles and cups, almost all type of plastics are collected in these places by thousands of people (waste pickers) who can earn some money by selling their collected plastic waste material to the next person in the chain. The plastic waste is sorted by type and colour, cleaned, grinded and sold as raw material to the plastic manufacturing industry. Every step adds value to the plastic material and as a result many people earn an income from these activities.

After seeing all this we realize that the challenge in this project will not only be to create more jobs, but also how to create decent jobs in the plastic value chain. Together with the local team in Mali we will try to find ways to improve the plastic value chain, for instance by capacity building, improve existing infrastructure and introduction of innovative technologies together with coaching and access to finance. For more information about this project: EJOM project.

Do you have questions or ideas for collaborating? Contact Sophie van den Berg, solid waste expert and plastic recycling adviser at WASTE <svdberg[at]waste.nl>