AfricWaste: the rise of the circular plastics economy in West Africa

Developing waste recycling channels by forging local partnerships with companies
involved in the social and solidarity economy and organizations. This is the mission of the
AfricWaste project, created by Veolia in the context of a partnership with the construction
group PFO Africa. Tested in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), the initiative looks to rely on the
informal economy to set up a structured channel for collecting and recovering plastic
waste, starting with PET bottles.
Published in February 2019

In an effort to effectively implement new practices, the project’s proponents have chosen to work with the informal collection system, a key link in the recycling chain in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Informal collection works well – it’s a clearly organized system. However, it is underoptimized, because people do not gain maximum benefit from their work,” explains Martine Vullierme, Deputy Director of Veolia’s Africa/Middle East zone.

During a first pilot phase deployed in Abidjan from October 2017 to March 2018, the AfricWaste project was tested at the Akouédo landfill: a collection and storage point where informal collectors can sell PET plastic bottles recovered from individuals and storekeepers.

Following conclusive initial results, a second pilot phase was conducted between March and September 2018 in the Treichville neighborhood to the south of the capital. A smartphone app was launched there: the user states the amount of waste they wish to have removed and their location; the waste can thus be retrieved by the nearest collector, who is then remunerated via phone payment.

“The project arose from this idea: if waste is valuable, we can create a link between the people who generate it, those who collect it, and Veolia that recycles it. This relationship is facilitated by phone payment, a service that incidentally originated in Africa,” Martine Vullierme reminds us.

The ultimate goal is to entrust the collection and sorting platforms to companies involved in the social and solidarity economy. These companies will supply the waste collected to Veolia, which will oversee its processing and recycling.

Key figures

Up to 15 metric tons of PET collected each month
100 CFA francs (€0.15): purchase price of a kilo of PET plastic from informal collectors
Project deadlines:
phase 1: October 2017 – March 2018
phase 2: March to September 2018
phase 3: 2021, consolidation of the channel