Pierre Kamsouloum: WasteAid’s inspirational plastics recycling trainer

Pierre teaches people in the poorest parts of the world to stop ocean plastic pollution, by turning plastic waste into useful products.

Our aid match appeal is to develop a training centre near the Cameroon estuary, where Pierre will teach hundreds of people to protect the ocean from plastic pollution.

Until 31 July, all public donations will be doubled by the UK government, meaning your donation will go twice as far.

Like many children in Cameroon, Pierre was born into poverty.

When he was young, he scavenged for recyclable materials from a rubbish dump to survive. He had just one set of clothes that he would wash at night, and little hope for a brighter future.

Like most boys across the world, Pierre was a football fanatic. Of course Pierre had no money to buy his own football, so he worked out how to make his own by melting plastic bags into a ball shape.

As a teenager, Pierre experimented further by mixing melted plastic with sand to form a very tough and durable material, similar to tarmac. With a simple mould, he could make a block that was very tough and almost unbreakable.

These blocks could be made in different shapes and sizes, and Pierre gradually developed a range of paving tiles, suitable for paths, roads and car parks. 

Each paving tile contains the equivalent of 200 plastic bags.

Pierre slowly grew a small business, employing a team and supplying his approved, certified building product to the Cameroonian market.

Pierre has a passion not just for turning waste into wealth, but for helping the most disadvantaged people – particularly unemployed youths, marginalised women and people with disabilities – to take control of their lives and work their way out of poverty.

He joined the WasteAid team in 2016 and since then has delivered training programmes to diverse communities across west Africa.

Pierre’s story resonates with people. He emphasises that if he could transform his life from one of disadvantage, then others can too. This is not an average recycling trainer – this is someone who has grit, determination, and the motivation to keep going despite the odds being firmly stacked against him.

WasteAid’s Widening the Net appeal is seeking to raise £100,000, which when doubled by UK government through its aid match programme will be enough to build a WasteAid plastics recycling training centre in Douala, serving as a base for Pierre. Once constructed, the centre will be used to train some 300 people in the first two years alone. Read about our pilot project in the Gambia.

The economic, social and environmental impacts of this in a city like Douala cannot be underestimated, as a new generation learns that the value in plastic waste can be recovered through simple low-tech processes.

By capturing ocean-bound plastic and turning it into paving tiles and other useful products, people will be empowered to support themselves in the long-term. Trainees will create green jobs, keep the environment healthy and prevent marine plastic pollution.

The WasteAid training programme will enable people living in poverty to become self-sufficient and to create a cleaner living environment for future generations.

Give before 31 July, and all public donations to our Widening the Net appeal will be doubled by the UK government, up to £2 million.

How do we know it works? Pierre and the WasteAid team are currently running a plastics recycling training programme in the coastal village of Gunjur in the Gambia, Africa’s smallest and most westerly country. Within two months of the first class of 30 graduating, they had kept a million plastic bags from being burned or dumped in the ocean. They recently installed paving for their first customer, and the future is looking brighter.

Read more about our appeal

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