Team up to create joint value, Incorporate digital technology, Use waste as a resource
8Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
11Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Many types of plastic that are ‘recycled’ in Kenya are often exported to another country. The few that are recycled locally are often downcycled into a product of lower value. The vast stocks of plastic waste could in fact be considered a resource if we could ‘close the loop’, i.
e., use old plastic to make new plastic products. For example, bottle-to-bottle recycling, in which, once the contents of a water bottle are consumed, the container is collected, processed and turned into a new water bottle.
This could save on the costs of importing virgin materials and the associated pollution and environmental degradation, as well as create huge numbers of local jobs.
Kieran Smith founded Mr Green Switzerland in Zurich in 2010 and four years later came to Kenya to do the same. Social change had always been at the heart of the Zurich entity, but became increasingly relevant as the business model was developed to trade directly with low-income, marginalised waste pickers in the Kenyan capital.
Mr Green Africa (MGA) collects, converts and sells more than 140 metric tonnes of post-consumer plastic per month, operating 15 trading points in Nairobi. About half comes directly from informal waste pickers, representing a regular supply from around 550 of Kenya’s most marginalised workers. MGA focuses on three types of plastics (HDPE, PP and PET), and is experimenting with collecting and processing ‘flexible’ single-use plastic.
MGA converts this post-consumer plastic ‘waste’ into valuable material, which is sold to local manufacturers, including suppliers of packaging to Unilever and other strategic partners. MGA works with fast moving consumer goods companies and third-party plastics manufacturers to three-way offtake agreements for high quality post-consumer recycled content, helping partners to realize their sustainable packaging goals by accessing ethically sourced and locally produced material. MGA has concluded a series of strategic partnerships with Unilever, Dow and TOTAL.
With Unilever they have developed the Waste Picker Transformation Journey to provide waste pickers with access to benefits, goods and services that improve their quality of life. With Dow they are piloting an app that links drivers with consumers for household pick up of plastic waste. The TOTAL pilots aggregation centres at TOTAL petrol stations, allowing customers to gain points for bringing their plastics, and redeem those points at TOTAL shops. They secured Series A funding in 2019 and have since doubled their revenues.