The Nesta Challenges organization unveils the 15 finalists of its Afri-Plastics Challenge initiative in sub-Saharan Africa. In this competition funded by the Government of Canada, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) presented innovative solutions for plastic waste management.
In recent years, several African countries have adopted a legal arsenal to reduce the manufacture and use of plastic packaging. However, from one country to another, these measures ultimately do little to dissuade consumers, as sub-Saharan Africa alone generated 17 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, according to environmental organizations. The Afri-Plastics Challenge initiative aims to turn this around by focusing on sustainable plastic waste management solutions.
Funded by the Canadian government, the Nesta Challenges initiative has just awarded 15 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for their sustainable waste management solutions in sub-Saharan Africa. Among the projects most appreciated by the jury were food packaging and building material solutions. Also, sustainable, plastic-free sanitary products for women and solutions for providing drinking water without single-use plastic bottles.
Among the selected projects is Chanja Datti’s Nigerian solution. This is a technology-based process for recycling plastic waste by purchasing directly from waste aggregators and collectors in northern Nigeria. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)-based Full Development Agency (FDA) is also among the winners of the plastic waste management competition. It offers solutions for sustainable management of urban waste and limiting its impact on the environment, the ecosystem and public health in this Central African country.
The competition rewarded each finalist with $170 Canadian (more than $133 U.S.) for developing their ideas. However, the initiative’s organizers hinted that of these 15 current finalists, three winners will be announced in March 2023. At that final deadline, the winners will share a total prize pool of $3.9 million Canadian, or just over $3 million US.
Nesta Challenges encourages SMEs and NGOs that propose sustainable and scalable solutions for reducing, recycling or reusing plastic waste. In most coastal countries of sub-Saharan Africa, marine plastic pollution is causing the destruction of marine biodiversity, as well as drastically reducing the livelihoods of populations.