Africa is facing a huge problem with waste. Current infrastructure is insufficient to process the waste we produce. Scientists project that by 2025, 10.5 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will be mismanaged on the continent and end up polluting and devastating land and the ocean.
A challenge was created to support Africans to solve Africa’s pollution problem through innovation and creative problem-solving. The Afri-Plastics Challenge, funded by the Government of Canada and convened by Nesta Challenges, aims to reduce marine plastics in Sub-Saharan African countries by developing and scaling innovative solutions to mismanaged plastics. Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) is excited to be partnering with the Afri-Plastics Challenge.
How the Challenge works
The Challenge is divided into three strands: Accelerating Growth, Creating Solutions, and Promoting Change. Each strand aims to prevent plastic waste from entering the marine environment by scaling existing innovations, finding creative new solutions, and raising awareness for reducing and managing waste more effectively. Challenge participants receive funds to support their existing businesses, new ideas, or campaigns. More importantly perhaps, the Challenge also provides capacity development for participants through workshops and mentoring in the run-up to the announcement of the winners in March 2023.
SST and the Afri-Plastics Challenge
SST’s role in the Challenge is to provide support to Challenge participants, by developing capacity in the understanding of plastics, the plastics value chain, gender mainstreaming, and environmental impacts of plastics.
SST is uniquely positioned to be a partner on the challenge. The Challenge is perfectly aligned with SST’s goal to stop plastic pollution to the seas of Africa. SST is actively conducting research into plastic pollution to inform and find solutions to this problem. This includes studies on microplastics, litter baseline studies and litter traps. SST currently works across Africa with its main programme the African Marine Waste Network. Furthermore, the development of small, micro, and medium enterprises (SMMEs) that harness waste as a resource – for example through recycling, which adds value to waste and redirects it from landfills and the environment – is crucial in addressing Africa’s waste crisis and is a priority for SST. Acknowledging the importance women play in the waste value chain and empowering them is also critical. Women make up the majority of informal waste sector employment. A sector that is characterised by harassment, stigmatisation, poor working conditions, and inconsistent pay. Women also make up only a small percentage of formal employment in the waste sector.
SST is therefore strategically positioned to share insight and knowledge with fellow Africans who are working to solve Africa’s plastic pollution problem. We are proud to work alongside the Afri-Plastics Challenge and all the participants as they scale their operations to solve Africa’s pollution crisis. For more information, visit the Afri-Plastics Challenge webpage.
- J Jambeck, BD Hardesty, AL Brooks, T Friend, K Teleki – Marine Policy, 2018 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X17305286)