Bioplastic produced from invasive aquatic vegetation amongst winners of African plastics prize

The Canadian authorities and social enterprise Problem Works have introduced the winners of their Afri-Plastics Problem – an accelerator for corporations throughout sub-Saharan Africa which can be working to finish plastic air pollution.

The competitors’s £4.1 million prize fund was divided amongst 9 profitable initiatives, together with a reusable diaper subscription from Rwanda and a Kenyan firm making washing-up brushes from discarded coconut fibres.

“Eleven million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean every year,” mentioned Problem Works’ managing director Tris Dyson. “The winners of the Afri-Plastics Problem are placing African innovation on the coronary heart of fixing this international drawback.”

Coconut-husk scouring pads (prime) and bioplastic produced from invasive plant species (prime) and among the many winners of the Afri-Plastics Problem

Launched in July 2021, the accelerator program acquired greater than a thousand entries that had been whittled all the way down to a shortlist of the 40 most promising initiatives, 60 per cent of which had been female-led.

The finalists, alongside the 31 different shortlisted initiatives, had already acquired £4.8 million price of seed funding, grants and assist all through the period of the competitors. Since  its launch they’ve reported a 113 per cent improve within the quantity of plastic being collected and processed each month.

“We’re awarding greater than £4 million to companies which can be already doubling recycling charges due to the Afri-Plastics Problem whereas offering new sources of earnings for households [and] pioneering corporations,” Dyson mentioned.

Chemolex bioplastic bag on a pile of tomatoes from Afri-Plastics Challenge
The bioplastic luggage are made by Kenyan firm Chemolex

The most important reduce of the prize fund at £1 million went to Inexperienced Trade Plast – an initiative establishing plastic donation bins throughout Togo and coaching younger drop-outs and girls in sorting and recycling the waste to make constructing supplies.

As soon as the plastic is melted, it’s combined with sand and forged into moulds to create bricks and paving stones for the area people.

“The Ecopave idea is an innovation designed to win over the minds of on a regular basis individuals and persuade them to make extra sustainable decisions within the supplies they use and the best way they eliminate plastic,” mentioned the corporate’s CEO Gado Bemah.

Invasive water hyacinths on Lake Victoria
The bioplastic itself is made utilizing invasive water hyacinths from Lake Victoria

One other £750,000 was awarded to Kenyan firm Chemolex, which has developed a bioplastic produced from invasive water hyacinths which can be blanketing Lake Victoria.

The Biopactic materials supplies an alternative choice to fossil-based plastics whereas creating an financial incentive for eradicating the invasive species wreaking havoc on the native ecosystem.

Fellow Kenyan firm EcoCoCo, which took dwelling £250,000, took a special strategy and as a substitute targeted on discovering a plastic-free substitute for conventional scrubbing brushes and scouring pads.

Competitively priced and biodegradable, the ensuing items are made utilizing waste coconut husks for bristles and handles made utilizing wooden offcuts from native timber yards and carpenters.

“Plastic dish scrubs and sponges are commonplace in houses in Africa and are a few of the most wasteful merchandise in our kitchens,” defined undertaking lead Ingabo Schneidder.

“When in use, they shed tiny fibres, a sort of microplastic, which might’t be filtered out by water therapy vegetation and find yourself within the water system. After which there’s the waste issue as a result of they’re changed typically and are usually not recyclable.”

Person making recycled plastic paving slabs for Green Industry Plast
Inexperienced Trade Plast recycles plastic into paving slabs

One other profitable undertaking was Toto Safi from Rwanda, an reasonably priced women-run subscription service that delivers and cleans reusable nappies.

The goal is to chop down on the 7,000 disposable diapers a median child wants earlier than they’re potty educated and finally save not simply waste but additionally value.

“Many moms in Rwanda simply do not have the cash to maintain up with the variety of disposable diapers they want, forcing them to chop again on fundamental necessities,” CEO Fath Wacera defined. “For some moms, it will probably imply the selection between diapers and meals.”

EcoCoCo scrubbers made from waste coconut husks and salvage timber
EcoCoCo makes washing-up brushes utilizing salvage timber and waste coconut fibres

Different profitable initiatives embody Mega Fuel, Ukwenza VR and Baus Taka Enterprise from Kenya, Chanja Datti from Nigeria and Catharina Natang from Cameroon.

Plastic air pollution is on the prime of the worldwide agenda for the time being because the second spherical of negotiations for the UN’s International Plastics Treaty befell in Paris final week.

Delegates from 180 nations and numerous different stakeholders had been concerned within the discussions to find out what the first-ever worldwide treaty to manage plastic manufacturing and air pollution ought to embody.

Reusable nappies by Toto Safi
Toto Safi is a supply and cleansing service for reusable nappies

However forward of the negotiations, quite a few NGOs and scientists accused the UN Surroundings Programme (UNEP) of excluding communities and waste pickers from creating nations, that are most affected by plastic air pollution.

In the meantime, Greenpeace lobbied for the treaty to deal with capping and phasing down plastic manufacturing as a substitute of treating recycling as a silver bullet resolution, in a report outlining how recycled polymers typically include extra poisonous chemical compounds than virgin plastic.