Company in DR Congo recycles plastic waste to clean up Kinshasa

2021-10-19 20:44:21
Company in DR Congo recycles plastic waste to clean up Kinshasa

Kinshasa, a megalopolis of at least 12 million people and capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa, is notorious for heaps of garbage and rivers choked by plastic bottles.

Beneath the large hangar of the Clean Plast company in Kinshasa, about 20 men wearing green T-shirts and red gloves sift through the waste and sort it by type of plastic and colour.

"We collect, we treat, we recycle all types of plastic waste from Kinshasa, with the objective of cleaning up the city," Alexander Bamanisa, managing director of the company established in 2018, told AFP.

Located in the working-class and deprived neighbourhood of Kingabwa, Clean Plast employs about 100 people and its plastic recycling plant is still operating "at only 20 percent of capacity", according to technical director Jagdeep Pandya.

"Since this factory opened, I come to sell them all kinds of plastic waste. It helps me to feed my family," Jeanne Bopena, a 39-year-old mother of two told AFP.

"It was important for us to contribute to finding a sustainable solution to this waste management problem," says Bamanisa.

In partnership with Kinshasa City Hall, the company has set up 15 plastic waste collection sites in the city, taking in about 10 tons every day.

The goal is to set up at least two sites in each of the capital's 24 communes and collect 4,000 tons of waste per month, says Bamanisa.

Like Bopena, other local residents come to sell plastic waste in relatively small amounts that they carry by hand or push on carts.

Behind the factory, a huge pile of waste has been brought in by vehicle. Everything is there: bottles, bags, chairs, tables, cans, dolls.

In the enclosure, mountains of compacted plastic bottles stand next to giant bales of crushed waste.

On the right side of the plant, a worker operates a shredder. Another dumps bags of new plastic bottles into a compactor.

"This is factory waste sent in by a local manufacturer. We have partnerships with major plastic manufacturers. They send us their waste, and we make reclaimed material from it," Pandya says.

'Sustainable' -

"Our goal is to have a range of 100 percent recycled products made in Kinshasa," adds Bamanisa.

The crushed and compacted materials are in turn driven on a metal conveyor belt to the cleaning plant.

They are then melted and poured into a granulator. Depending on the colour, the regenerated material is placed in white bags and stored, ready to be sold to the plastic manufacturing industry.

In Kinshasa, there have been many private initiatives by environmental protection organisations, but the problem has not been solved.

In October 2019, President Felix Tshisekedi launched "Kin Bopeto" (Clean Kinshasa).

Since then, only a few garbage cans have been installed in some neighbourhoods of Kinshasa, where 9,000 tons of waste are produced daily, according to the city council.

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