Plastic Wastes Exchange 4 Rice Campaign in Koidu, Sierra Leone

Plastic Wastes Exchange 4 Rice Campaign in Koidu, Sierra Leone

Plastic Wastes Exchange 4 Rice Campaign in Koidu, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, a West African country with approximately 8 million inhabitants, heavily relies on rice as a staple food, making it an essential agricultural product for the country. Concurrently, the nation grapples with a significant volume of plastic waste production daily. Single-use plastics are prevalent, with numerous factories producing sachets of drinking water and plastic bottled beverages. In 2021, the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), in partnership with the Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNSCC), implemented the "Waste Wise Koidu" project, a 14-month solid waste management pilot initiative funded by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). A key aspect of the project involved supporting Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in recycling plastic and organic waste into marketable products.

The project introduced the "Plastic Wastes Exchange 4 Rice" initiative, incentivizing plastic waste recovery from households and the environment by exchanging five cups of rice for an equivalent of 2kgs of plastic waste. This campaign aimed to discourage indiscriminate littering of plastic waste, reduce pollution in water bodies and on land, divert waste from landfills, and improve hygiene and sanitation conditions for city residents while promoting environmental conservation. Initially piloted by Welt Hunger Hilfe (WHH) in Koidu city in 2020, the initiative garnered significant community and stakeholder participation. In July 2022, the Waste Wise Koidu pilot project reintroduced the initiative during International Plastic Free Day celebrations, raising awareness about plastic waste pollution and incentivizing waste separation at the source to boost recycling.

Over the course of three days, the campaign recovered a total of 4,500 kgs (4.5 tons) of plastic waste from households and the environment. These collected plastic wastes were handed over to SMEs engaged in recycling, with 140 kgs (0.14 tons) converted into 700 pavement tiles/bricks used to pave KNSCC frontage as a demonstration. The remaining 4,360 kgs (4.36 tons) of plastic waste are still in stock, with SMEs in Koidu and sister SMEs in Makeni, Bo, and Kenema gradually recycling and engaging potential buyers for their products.

Following community engagement by KNSCC in June 2023, youth groups and households have been involved in collecting and storing plastic waste for the past year in anticipation of the campaign's return before the end of 2023. As a result, Koidu has seen a reduction in plastic waste pollution compared to other cities in Sierra Leone. However, proactive measures are necessary to retrieve plastic waste from household storage before it is released into the environment, which could exacerbate pollution rates.

Call for support

KNSCC is calling on donor partners to support, both financially and technically to continuously engage in this result oriented activity, maintain a zero waste city and beat plastic wastes pollution sustainably. The evidences are there and the result is measurable and can be evaluated.

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