In 2018 WasteAid was awarded funding via the UK Aid Small Charities Challenge Fund to develop a plastic waste recycling programme to benefit marginalised communities on the Gambian coast. Working in partnership with Women’s Initiative the Gambia and the Trust Agency for Rural Development, WasteAid developed a plastic recycling training and skills hub to provide an income-generating alternative to open dumping and burning of plastic waste.
WasteAid trained 90 unemployed and vulnerable people in the community of Gunjur, as well as 24 trainers from the capital city, in the collection, sorting and processing of plastic waste to make useful products like paving tiles. Trainees were also sensitised on the health and climate impacts of burning plastic waste, and given training in business skills and occupational health and safety. Within the first three months of operations, the team in Gunjur prevented a million plastic bags from being burned or reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
Since then, Innovative Plastic Recyclers in Gunjur has developed enormously and the team has been successful in putting significant quantities of plastic waste to good use. With a new tranche of support from St. James’s Place Wealth Management and the Marlborough Brandt Group, the core team will now benefit from targeted business management training and mentorship, to enable them to expand their market reach and grow their enterprise.
WasteAid’s Head of Programmes and Impact, Angela McDermott said: “Developing a recycling business where there is no waste collection service or fiscal incentive has its own challenges. We’ve been really impressed with the commitment of the team in Gunjur and are delighted to have secured additional start-up incubation support.”
Alex Davies of St. James’s Place Wealth Management commented: “The open burning of plastic waste causes a wide range of negative impacts, particularly for children’s health and climate change. We have seen first-hand the benefits of this recycling start-up for the community of Gunjur and are pleased to be able to provide support through WasteAid to help strengthen the business model.”
The team will benefit from a specialist business mentor and trainer, with the added benefit of regional market knowledge to help build the customer base. Identifying new sources of plastic waste and developing a sustainable growth plan will help Gunjur Plastic Recyclers on their path of innovation and leadership for the Gambia’s green economy.