Materials science specialist Dow has launched a pilot project in Nigeria to recycle water sachets.
The project is called ReflexNG and via this initiative, Dow hopes to divert around 300 million sachets that would otherwise end up in the environment or landfill, into recycling applications. The combined plastics waste is estimated to be in the region of 600 tonnes.
Centred on Lagos, the project also plans to promote sustainability to small and medium-sized waste businesses.
Beyond the pilot phase, which runs to February 2021, Dow (@DowNewsroom),plans scale up the project to recover quantities of flexible packaging with potential for replication across the region.
Overall, it aims to make a viable business case for the use of recyclate in non-food primary packaging applications.
Working in partnership with Omnik, RecylePoints and the Lagos Business School (LBS) Sustainability Centre, the pilot programme will show how water sachets can be collected and recycled to be used in new, quality packaging applications.
An estimated 19% of the Nigerian population does not have access to clean, safe drinking water, according to resource organisation Global Waters.
Water sachets are recognised as providing an affordable and readily available source of drinking water for the country’s citizens, particularly in heavily populated urban environments like Lagos. However, their widespread consumption has led to the unintended consequence of environmental pollution and can block drains.
“Currently, more than 90% of waste generated in Africa is disposed at uncontrolled dumpsites and landfills. Through our partnerships with Nigerian enterprises, academic institutions and local industry associations, we are making significant strides in addressing the crises of plastic waste and proving that the material does have intrinsic value,” said Adwoa Coleman, Dow’s Africa Sustainability and Advocacy Manager for Packaging and Specialty Plastics.
In relation to this project, the water sachets will be collected by waste management firm RecyclePoints, which uses kiosks, a phone app and employs waste pickers to collect waste that can be recycled.
The kiosks act as a ‘bring-back’ focal point for the community to return waste in exchange for groceries, mobile phone credits, cash and other useful items.