Keep America Beautiful Joins Corporate Partners to Boost Recycling in Flint, Mich., Schools

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The new initiative provides funding for a multi-tiered educational approach aimed at increasing the number of plastic bottles that are recycled within school grounds as well as create opportunities to provide students, teachers and staff with the knowledge and the passion to recycle at home, at school and on-the-go.

The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé Waters North America, the PepsiCo Foundation and the Walmart Foundation today announced that they have partnered to fund an integrated recycling education and awareness initiative for the 10,000 school students affected by the Flint water crisis, led by national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful and its local Flint, Mich., affiliate Keep Genesee County Beautiful (KGCB).

In January 2016, the four companies announced they would provide up to 6.5 million bottles of safe and clean drinking water to Flint school students. From the outset of the program, they have been providing for the storage and delivery of the bottled water, as well as the transporting of the empty water bottles for recycling.

The new initiative provides funding for a multi-tiered educational approach aimed at increasing the number of plastic bottles that are recycled within school grounds as well as create opportunities to provide students, teachers and staff with the knowledge and the passion to recycle at home, at school and on-the-go.

“Keep America Beautiful is thrilled to receive broad support from a host of partners in our efforts to educate, motivate and activate Flint’s students, teachers and the broader school community to properly recycle the tremendous amount of material that is being generated,” said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful. “This is a great opportunity for us to work closely with Keep Genesee County Beautiful to make a meaningful difference in improving recycling throughout Flint and to teach the next generation of environmental stewards the benefits of recycling and how to recycle right.”

The K-12 school-based program objectives are to:

  • Provide outreach, tools, resources and activities to educate, motivate and activate students, staff and teachers to recycle more and recycle right;
  • Organize, support and share resources with recycling champions at each school to support day-to-day recycling efforts;
  • Share best practices and support school personnel responsible for collecting and consolidating recycling at each school on proper recycling bin placement, signage and collection of the recyclables; and
  • Track and report the amount of recyclables being collected by the schools with the goal of achieving a 25 percent increase in recycling.

“Promoting recycling education and infrastructure to Flint schools in partnership with Keep America Beautiful is important and something we are actively engaged in,” said Aaron Stallings, Walmart Market Manager for the North Central Division. “We see this program contributing to a more resilient and sustainable Flint.”

“The Coca-Cola Company understands the importance of ongoing support for the residents of the City of Flint. Providing water for daily use was the first step and the promotion of recycling and recycling education round out this support,” said Bruce Karas, Vice President, Environment and Sustainability, The Coca-Cola Company North America. “We must all do our part to ensure that residents’ needs are met and the City of Flint returns to the viable and vibrant city we all know it can be.”
“Water is a human right and as soon as the PepsiCo team learned about Flint and their drinking water supply, we reached out to be part of creating sustainable, local solutions,” said Tim Carey, Senior Director Sustainability and Recycling, PepsiCo. “We all want to be part of communities with abundant natural resources so PepsiCo is pleased to support the City of Flint and other partners to give back to Genesee County. We’re striving to collect every bottle and every can as part of this powerful partnership.”
“Access to clean, safe drinking water is the right of every man, woman and child. That is why helping our neighbors in Flint is something we’ve been proud to do,” said Nelson Switzer, Chief Sustainability Officer for Nestlé Waters North America. “But our shared commitment doesn’t end there.  We now need to work together so the bottles the coalition used to deliver safe drinking water are recovered and recycled.  Together with our coalition partners and the families of Flint, we are very pleased to kick-start a massive recycling opportunity.”

Keep America Beautiful is working in tandem with KGCB to tailor the recycling educational lesson plans, tools and activities for Flint’s students, while ongoing recycling education and program implementation is being conducted by KGCB staff and volunteers. Resources include take-home materials in an effort to bring the school education and experience home, reaching families in their residences to also enhance curbside recycling participation.

“Since this crisis began, Keep Genesee County Beautiful has been the ‘go-to’ recycling resource for the Flint community. We help Flint residents cope with the water crisis by raising awareness and educating residents about the benefits of recycling, by signing up residents for curbside recycling and being a pickup point for recycling bins,” said Karen West, Program Director/Lead Consultant, KGCB. “We are incredibly grateful for this financial support and appreciate the opportunity to work with Keep America Beautiful and the students and staff of Flint schools to encourage, educate and engage the community in recycling.”

Keep America Beautiful is providing materials from its Waste in Place curriculum; its “I Want To Be Recycled” public service advertising campaign; Recycle-Bowl, its national in-school K-12 recycling competition; America Recycles Day and other resources as part of the overall programming to improve the in-school recycling rate.



Dell Adds Ocean Plastics to its Packaging

By: Cheryl McMullen



As environmental leaders around the world continue to put the onus of product recycling back on waste generators, Dell Inc., is taking another step along its own path to a circular economy by adding ocean plastics to its packaging.

Last week, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell announced it will keep 16,000 pounds of plastics out of the ocean and in the economy by mixing it in a 1:3 ratio with recycled HDPE plastics to make a new packaging system for its XPS 13 2-in1 laptop. Overall, 25 percent of the recycled content of the trays will be ocean plastics. Dell hopes to increase the amount to 20,000 pounds of ocean plastics next year and continue to look at how the ocean plastics can be used for both packaging and possibly products in the future.

The company, says Oliver Campbell, the director of procurement & packaging innovation at Dell, took a serious look at ocean plastics when its first social good advocate, actor and entrepreneur Adrian Grenier, helped leadership understand the breadth of challenges our oceans face today.

After collaborating with Grenier, who is best known for his role in the HBO series Entourage, and the Lonely Whale Foundation on “Cry Out – The Lonely Whale VR Experience,” a three-minute underwater VR expedition created by 3D Live with Dell Precision, Alienware, AMD and HTC technology. The experience is almost like a ride, where participants get the sensation of diving deep into the sea and are greeted by shoals of fish – but also by carpets of plastic pollution and the damaging noise of seismic probes.

Then, with more research, says Campbell, the company learned the bleak numbers behind ocean plastics. “There’s approximately 8 million tons of plastic waste going into the ocean every year and that number is increasing. If things don’t change by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. And that is just staggering,” he says.

Although the perception is a large sea of plastics thick enough to walk upon floating in the ocean somewhere, says Campbell, the reality is that once plastics are in the ocean they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, and the ability to recover them is greatly diminished.

“We were dissuaded quite early on in this project that we couldn’t be Jacque Cousteau and National Geographic going out on a ship and collecting ocean plastics. That was my only disappointment in this— that I couldn’t be Jacque Cousteau. But I still think we are doing great things for the ocean.”

So instead, the company is collecting the plastics at its most concentrated point—just before it goes into the ocean. Dell is focusing on Portau-Prince, Haiti, where research showed a large amount of ocean plastics come from. Additional focus is on Southeast Asia in India, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and the Phillipines, which according to a white paper discussing Dell’s approach, have the highest concentrations of land-based ocean plastics and can be viewed as a supply chain network providing substantial materials on a daily basis. The reason for this, Campbell says, is many of these areas lack a formal waste system for handling garbage and recycling.

So, in Haiti, local pickers collect these land-based ocean plastics from beaches, waterways and coastal areas and take them to collection or recycling centers, where the plastic is aggregated and sorted by the waste processors. They are then processed and refined and sent to China where the packaging trays are made. The trays are molded and stamped with an illustration of whales and the #2 recycling symbol. The trays, are curbside recyclable in many communities the company says, with the hopes that they will stay in the loop of the circular economy.

The company has taken a hard look at its packaging, making it a priority in its Dell Legacy of Good goal of 100 percent sustainable packaging by 2020. Campbell says the quality of the mixed plastics works well for packaging and the cost may even be lower than other packaging.

This is not Dell’s first go at recycling, he adds. The technology company has a 10-year history of innovation in recycling and packaging as well as recycled content, such as water bottles in its computer products.

With the goal of the circular economy being to recycle and reuse materials continually, rather than send them to landfill after a single use, Dell’s packaging innovation has lead it to use various sustainable products including wheat straw, bamboo and mushrooms in addition to the ocean plastics. The company says using recycled content materials from various waste streams helps break free of the linear march of materials to landfills when they reach end of life.

Dell also has lead the tech industry in efforts to recycle computer plastic, as it announced in 2015, it was incorporating 2.89 million pounds of that plastic e-waste into its OptiPlex 3030 All-in-One, OptiPlex 3020 and 13 other desktops and monitors. In that effort, the company collected computer plastics in take-back programs it had set up in 78 countries and then shipped to China, where they were shredded, melted and blended with virgin plastic before being molded into new parts. The recycled plastic content averaged 35 percent.



101 Easy Eco Friendly, Zero Waste Tips


I thought it would be a lot of fun to compose over 100 easy tips for going zero waste that you could implement relatively quickly. You might not be able to implement all of the today, but you can definitely get a jump start on a lot!

101 easy eco friendly, zero waste tips that you can implement today! From

A lot of these things are SUPER easy to do, it just takes a little bit of commitment. Obviously, you don’t have to do everything on this list. Going zero waste is a journey, and a lot of times there is more than one option.

There is no one correct way to do something. Rather there is a multitude of ways ranging from best to better to not so good. Weigh all of your options and be a conscious consumer. Reducing your consumption is the most important thing you can do.

But, in the meantime, pick a couple of things and give something new a try! You have to start somewhere. And, don’t let only being able to do a little prevent you from doing anything. All the little things add up to massive impact!

Every day we have a choice to make this world a little wasteful. What can you do today?

  1. Ask for no straw in your drink order when out.
  2. Don’t leave your house without a full reusable water bottle.
  3. Ditch tissues for handkerchiefs.
  4. Pick up a lonely banana.
  5. Always say no thank you to free promotional items. They tend to be cheap and break easily.
  6. Get a library card to support your local sharing economy.
  7. Donate unused items in good condition to support the second-hand market.
  8. Think second-hand first when purchasing something.
  9. Try elderberry syrup if you feel a cold coming on instead of immediately reaching for a plastic pill bottle.
  10. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush.
  11. Turn old sheets and towels into handkerchiefs, rags, napkins, and cloth produce bags.
  12. Build a zero waste kit and put in the trunk of your car or carry it with you when you’ll be out so you’ll always be prepared. It doesn’t have to be large just a few items!
  13. Wash clothes when they are actually dirty, instead of after only one wear.
  14. Open a window to cool down your home or air it out.
  15. Try to avoid palm oil.
  16. Buy food without packaging or minimal packaging.
  17. Instead of buying something when you’re having a bad day, do something. I.e. go on a walk, take a yoga class, meet up with a friend.
  18. Repurpose stale bread.
  19. Make dry shampoo to stretch between washes.
  20. Surround yourself with items that serve multiple purposes to streamline and cut excess junk.
  21. Commit to bringing your reusable bags to the store. If you don’t have them, turn around and go get them! After forgetting them once, you won’t do it again.
  22. Try canning to preserve food.
  23. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap, it tends to come with less packaging.
  24. Swap disposable pads and tampons for cloth pads or a menstrual cup.
  25. Change light bulbs to LEDs.
  26. Be mindful when using technology.
  27. Bring reusable produce bags for fruits and veggies.
  28. Put on a sweater and socks before turning up the heat.
  29. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  30. Don’t buy anything impulsively!
  31. Try making your own lotion.
  32. Check out your farmers market.
  33. Make your own face mask from stuff in your pantry.
  34. Try cloth diapering.
  35. Get some houseplants at a local nursery to purify your air, don’t forget to return the little plastic pots!
  36. Get rid of pests naturally.
  37. Meal plan to avoid food waste.
  38. Unplug electronics when not in use.
  39. Try making tooth powder to avoid unrecyclable toothpaste tubes.
  40. Buy more locally made goods.
  41. Repair something when it breaks.
  42. If you’re looking for a specialty item, like camping gear or an extra table for a party, ask a friend if you can borrow one before making a purchase.
  43. Plant a small garden.
  44. Learn how to freeze your food without plastic so it doesn’t go to waste.
  45. Make your own febreze spray to freshen your room for pennies!
  46. Start a backyard compost.
  47. Swap little plastic chapstick tubes for DIY lip balm.
  48. Surround yourself with tools and items that are meant to last a lifetime. Try to only buy objects once.
  49. Try your hand at an easy all-purpose cleaning spray.
  50. Look into collecting rainwater or a greywater system.
  51. Store your food properly to make it last longer.
  52. Find your local cobbler to repair tired shoes.
  53.  Know where everything you buy comes from whether it be food, clothing, or other household goods
  54. Ask for no plastic and reused packaging materials for online orders.
  55. Pack your lunch instead of eating out every day.
  56. Reduce your meat consumption. If you’re not ready to go vegetarian start small: try Meatless Monday, weekday vegetarian, or even weekday vegan.
  57. Learn to regrow kitchen scraps.
  58. Line dry a load instead of using the dryer.
  59. Try homemade mouthwash.
  60. Ditch plastic shower loofahs for a real loofah or a bamboo bath brush.
  61. Ask for a real mug at the coffee shop when staying in.
  62. Always run a full dishwasher or load of clothes.
  63. Most sunscreen causes coral bleaching, go coral friendly!
  64. Bring your own container for to-go food and leftovers.
  65. Ditch paper towels and use tea towels and rags.
  66. Beware of greenwashing, always do your research.
  67. Make your own deodorant.
  68. If it’s a 30 minute or less walk, get outside instead of driving.
  69. Vote with your dollars for a sustainable future.
  70. Bring your own to-go cup when getting coffee on the run.
  71. Look into tree-free TP.
  72. Learn how to repair a button or hem to extend the life of your clothing.
  73. Look into rechargeable batteries instead of disposables.
  74. Serve dinner with cloth napkins. 
  75. Eat more vegetables and legumes.
  76. Keep a bucket in the shower to water plants or flush the toilet.
  77. Wrap presents in newsprint or not at all!
  78. Swap cotton rounds for reusable rounds.
  79. Focus on experiences rather than things.
  80. Switch from a plastic disposable razor to a metal safety razor.
  81. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.
  82. Make homemade gifts to give to friends and family.
  83. Try Wheatless Wednesdays to cut back on intensive grain farming.
  84. Avoid junk mail by placing a sticker on your box or going to
  85. Keep a stocked pantry to avoid getting takeout on busy nights.
  86. Learn where to properly dispose of items like gift cards, old cell phones, batteries and unusable cords can be turned in at best buy etc.
  87. Find your local tailor to help with clothing repairs.
  88. Ask yourself if you truly need it before making any purchases.
  89. Go paperless for all your bills!
  90. Swap don’t shop! Host a clothing swap with friends.
  91. Pick up litter when you’re out and dispose of it properly.
  92. Make your morning cup of coffee with a french press or pour over with a reusable filter to avoid extra waste.
  93. Ditch plastic q-tips for plastic-free or reusable.
  94. Ditch sponges in lieu of compostable scrubs or brushes.
  95. Try to shrink the amount you recycle. Zero waste is about recycling less not more.
  96. Use both sides of the paper!
  97. Avoid receipts when out, ask if one has to be printed. Sometimes they do, but not always!
  98. Take public transit if available or carpool.
  99. Join a community garden.
  100. Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer.
  101. Make my favorite zero waste switch: look at installing a bidet attachment.

Are there any zero waste tips I left out? What would add to the list or tell someone who’s just starting the zero waste journey?



USAID Launches Municipal Waste Recycling Program in Southeast Asia


By: Darren Manning, Urban Development Officer, USAID’s E3/Land and Urban Office

Asian countries are responsible for more than half of the plastic waste in the world’s oceans. To help address this critical issue, USAID has launched a new program that focuses on identifying and scaling innovations to improve municipal waste recycling in three Asian countries — Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the Philippines — which are among the world’s top five producers of plastics waste.

Improving the management of municipal waste in these countries, which border two oceans, is imperative to reducing plastics pollution that threatens human health and adversely affects the marine environment.

In late 2016, I traveled to the Philippines to meet with local organizations and finalize work plans for the Municipal Waste Management Recycling Program with implementing partner Development Innovations Group (DIG).

The Municipal Waste Recycling Program (MWRP) is a four-year, $9 million initiative to address the global problem of marine plastics pollution. Implemented under USAID’s Making Cities Work program, MWRP will provide $3.5 million in grants and technical assistance to support promising municipal waste recycling efforts in Asia, evaluate their effectiveness, and make recommendations for future USAID investments in the sector.

Outside of Manila, Philippines, thousands of tons of seaweed, garbage and sewage were washed by floods into the streets of low-lying poorer suburbs. Photo Credit: Arlynn Aquino/EU

Tragedy and Inspiration

The Philippines has an estimated population of 100 million and produces more than 40,000 tons of garbage every day, or 14.6 million tons a year, thereby making solid waste management a serious health and environmental issue. The indiscriminate dumping of garbage kills rivers and other water bodies and prevents the free flow of water causing environmental hazards and flooding.

During the trip, I visited two communities that turned environmental threats into opportunities to change behavior and inspire political action around better waste management.

On July 10, 2000, after two consecutive typhoons and the constant deluge of the seasonal monsoon, Payatas, a massive mountain of garbage on the outskirts of Manila collapsed. At least 300 people — men, women, and children who lived and worked on the mountain — were buried alive in the avalanche of garbage. As an immediate result, the Philippine government swiftly shut down the Payatas dump and passed the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. This law sought to manage Manila’s trash problem and reduce the amount of garbage through recycling and composting programs.

aterial Recovery Facility in Batangas

Workers at a Material Recovery Facility in Batangas, Philippines. Photo Credit: Darren Manning/USAID

A few months after the disaster, the Payatas dump was reopened, at the request of the waste-pickers who depended on it for income, and because trash was piling up in the streets of Manila. New steps were taken to reduce the steepness of the slopes thus reducing the possibility of another fatal avalanche, and pipes were installed to vent methane gas emitted by the rotting garbage. Along with extensive intervention from the public and private sector, Payatas has become a model example of how to formalize a dump into a properly managed landfill. Through government and civil society support, the surrounding waste picker community of 30,000 was formally incorporated into the management, collection, separation, and recycling of all garbage arriving at Payatas. Supporting service industries have flourished and local residents benefit from new social programs in education, health, and financial management.

Thirteen years after the act was passed, less than a quarter of metro Manila’s barangays, or urban villages, have a working materials recovery facility. These recovery facilities are the lynchpin of the waste management plan. This is where food scraps become compost, glass bottles and plastics are routed to the right facilities, and residual trash is picked up and trucked to a landfill.

Material Recovery Facility

A Material Recovery Facility in Batangas, Philippines. Photo Credit: Darren Manning/USAID

In the riverside barangay of Potrero in Malabon City, the solid waste gathering in storm sewer grates and clogging waterways caused constant flooding during the rainy season. During this visit, I met with the Mother Earth Foundation and the Potrero Village Council who have initiated a Reduction/Reuse/Recycling Campaign to comply with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and improve recovery of household solid waste. As part of the campaign, Potrero established a disaster risk reduction plan, new material recovery facilities, an environmental education campaign, and enforced household participation. This has led to successful recovery of 93 percent of Potrero’s household waste with only 7 percent of the residual waste headed to the landfill.

Houses in Manila

In Manila, a dark line on the houses shows the height of the water level during a recent flood. Solid waste gathering in storm sewer grates and clogging waterways often causes flooding during the rainy season. Photo Credit: Henri Disselkoen/Development Innovations Group.

USAID is optimistic that the focused ongoing efforts in the Philippines, from the national to local levels, will make a sustained impact on improving solid waste management practices throughout the country.  USAID’s new Municipal Waste Recycling Program seeks to support these innovative programs and others through the grants process and share the results and success stories with other countries in the region.



Creating more value from e-waste plastics in Ghana



Accra, 9 February 2017: A hands-on training on e-waste plastics marks a starting point for new partnerships to work towards a better management of e-waste plastics in Ghana. The workshop aimed at improving technical skills to identify different waste plastic types, to recycle them and to find possible new applications. The workshop was jointly organized by the Ghana National Cleaner Production Centre, Empa, Oeko-Institut, the World Resources Forum, and the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency. The event met high interest by e-waste recyclers, plastic-using companies, NGOs and various other stakeholders.

Plastics constitute an important part of e-waste – around 20% by mass on average. Their recycling, while technically possible in most cases, requires specific know-how, appropriate machinery and typically generates low profit margins. As a result, e-waste plastics are generally disregarded as a non-valuable fraction, that “gets in the way” of recovering the metal fractions. In countries with a largely informal e-waste recycling economy, such plastics are usually dumped or burnt in the open. The open burning of cables to extract copper and aluminium wires provides an emblematic example of such practices, and of their potential harmfulness. Open cable burning indeed releases dioxins and furans, as well as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and various heavy metals. The dumping and/or open burning of plastics containing brominated flame retardants, which include internationally banned persistent organic pollutants (POPs), provides another example of the public health and environmental hazards posed by improper management of e-waste plastics.


The training was divided into two sessions: a hands-on one, focussing on simple polymer identification methods, followed by a more theoretical session presenting the basic principles of plastic recycling and potential applications for recycled e-waste plastics. After these sessions, a discussion between workshop presenters and participants was initiated, aiming at identifying potential linkages between e-waste plastic producers and plastic-using companies.

The identification and segregation of plastic types, subject of the first session, is often necessary to produce high-quality recyclates as most polymer types are incompatible with each other. While automated sorting systems are used for that purpose in countries with high labour costs, manual sorting techniques can get a long way in places where labour is cheap and plentiful, such as Ghana. Combining identification techniques provided by the Swiss Plastic Education and Training Centre (KATZ) and methods observed in Indian informal plastic recycling facilities, workshop participants were taught simple tests to recognize and sort the main types of plastic found in e-waste. The group was divided into 5 teams that were each given a sorting tool-kit, plastic flakes of different types, and a 4-page handout containing necessary information to identify plastic types. This practical session was met with high interest, and by the end of the session most participants were able to correctly identify the various plastic types.

The second session introduced basic processing steps of plastic recycling, such as sorting, shredding, washing, pelletizing and injection moulding, as well as basic principles including the segregation and proper disposal of hazardous fractions (such as brominated plastics), and the avoidance of food-contact applications. Furthermore, possible applications for recycled e-waste plastics were presented, including both products that are already produced domestically (such as crates, pallets, waste pipes and waste containers) and products known to be common applications for e-waste plastics but lacking domestic production in Ghana (such as printer or vacuum cleaner housings, car bumpers, wheel covers and coat hangers). For this latter category of products, scrap exports could be envisaged.

In the final discussion, participants were invited to share their experiences and challenges with e-waste plastics. Most attending e-waste recyclers indicated struggling to find downstream markets for their plastic fractions, with no better option than stockpiling them at the moment. Besides taking up valuable space, growing piles of plastic also represent a significant fire hazard. Plastic-using companies reported having little or no experience with e-waste plastics, but several showed interest in conducting recycling trials with such material. In some cases, discussions were particularly fruitful and led to agreements between e-waste recyclers and plastic companies to collaborate in the future. SRI plastic activities in Ghana will further encourage and support such collaborations until the end of 2017.

Unused waste plastic pile in Agbogbloshie, Accra
Unused waste plastic pile in Agbogbloshie, Accra
Shredded waste plastics stored at a recycler in Accra
Shredded waste plastics stored at a recycler in Accra


Resources From Effective Waste Management Can Finance Free SHS

By: Jeffery Asare


There is no qualm that the future advantages for free SHS for this country would be colossal. Free SHS is a necessity and an intelligent investment to be made in this country. Just imagine how this country would have been if free SHS policy was implemented 40 years ago. We would have been competing with some developed countries by now.

Listening to comments from experts and politicians, it sounds almost all are in support of free SHS but the major challenges are the source of funding and its sustainability. There have been many suggestions but I strongly believe, this is the moment we as a country need to take certain opportunities seriously. Our dependency on oil exploration in this country has blinded us into focusing on other potential yields which I believe can produce sustainable yield and better opportunities than the oil production. There are many opportunities in this country that have not been harnessed effectively to support the economy and one of such opportunity is the current structure we have laid down in managing waste in this country.

Waste is a resource which would end when the last man dies. It would be the greatest resource of worth when harnessed effectively. Many developed countries have produced sustainable resources and financial gains just because they have put up structures that are accruing huge financial gains from waste management. Many are also turning their waste into other productive resources which are cutting down their dependency on non-renewable resources and creating sustainable jobs for the unemployed. Why can’t we do the same as a country?

Waste are being thrown into river bodies and gutters, causing irreparable situation which are draining our resources. Huge sums of money are pumped on sanitation and collection of waste. Environmental related diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, cholera, which could be easily prevented by providing measures to manage our waste are claiming lives. Waste generation has become cheaper and there is no economic incentive of minimizing waste in this country.

As the country begin to embark on free SHS, which would help the nation both directly and indirectly, it is the full responsibility of every Ghanaian to support in executing this project. One way we can all support is through restructuring our waste management system such that every waste generated would attract cost to support the free SHS. As we are benefiting from the services from proper waste management in this country, we would be supporting the education of our children toward a better future.



How waste recycling can be used to reduce poverty in West Africa

By Efe A. Omordia







Compared to other parts of the world, recycling is a relatively new concept in Africa. In West Africa, for example in a report published by the all-recycling-facts-com it was stated that in Europe as far back as the Second World War ‘financial constraints and massive material shortage due to war efforts made it necessary for our ancestors to reuse goods and recycle materials’.

In present day West Africa, as more awareness is being created about recycling, some countries are trying to find ways in which their citizenry can benefit from engaging in recycling.

Ghana could make $400,000 from recycling waste

In 2013, a research carried out by the Ghana Center for Scientific and Industrial Research found that $400,000 can be generated in Ghana every month from recycling waste. This report was submitted to a governmental agency but as it stands that amount is not being generated in Ghana, an indication that countries in West Africa, are not keying properly into the initiative but Ghana seems to be doing better than most other countries in West Africa as efforts to formalize recycling only began in Nigeria in December 2016 – a recycling initiative was launched by the Lagos State Government, according to a report by The Vanguard newspaper.

To understand the Nigerian situation, there is need at this point to highlight a face of recycling that has to do with individuals who are trying to earn a living by engaging in the enterprise in a country where awareness is really low. It is important to highlight this aspect as the large population in Nigeria makes it easy for others who reside in neighboring countries to be positively or negatively influenced.

The West African Reality: The Nigerian Story

Dressed in casual pants and T-shirt, Abdullahi Abu trudges the streets of the Governmental Residential Area in the southern part of Nigeria. Nothing in his demeanor indicates that he is miles and miles away from home. He doesn’t seem perturbed as living far from Sokoto, his state of origin has become his reality.

“I was in Abuja before I came here,” he revealed in broken English while giving sketchy details about his past. On a typical day, the youngman in his twenties can be spotted shouting in a loud voice as well as banging on objects while moving around from one location to the other but he is neither an idler nor a miscreant, he is on a mission. “We go from street to street in search of specific items no longer used by residents,” he says with pride. “With the money given to us by those who need it we purchase the items,” he adds.

The items he talks about are materials like car batteries, fridges, Air conditioners etc. that are no longer in use.

With the teeming population under the age of thirty residing in a state like Edo State, which is in the southern part of Nigeria, it has become common to see a number of people like Abdullahi who hail from a different part of the country coming all the way to engage in such a trade.

Daniel Osadiey, an indigene who is a fashion apprentice gives an insight, “people who come from these parts consider it a demeaning way to earn a living”. A statement that seems to downplay the high unemployment rate in Nigeria but Daniel doesn’t stop there he explains further, “For those who are unemployed and who may want to engage in the business, they may hesitate because it is so close to home”.

An Encounter with Festus a few days later who is from a neighboring state seemed to contradict Daniel’s views, as on a typical day he can be seen going around not even to homes, but to the streets in the southern city to pick discarded plastic bottles, cans and so on, in the full view of everyone to sell so he could survive but on closer inspection, it turns out Festus is developmentally challenged hence his indifference to how he is viewed by others, but does it really mean that recycling is such an unsavoury endeavor in Nigeria? Is it as demeaning as some segments of the population are inclined to think?

Osaze Obaizamioman a trained economist has an interesting perspective on the subject; “170 million Nigerians contribute to waste creation by virtue of being alive. If this waste is properly harnessed then poverty will reduce,” he says, but it appears that those in the critical sector who supervise refuse collection in Nigeria appear to be slow in catching on with recycling, unlike their contemporaries in countries of the West.

As far back as 2005, the highlighted countries have been involved actively in recycling. For example, in a BBC online report of June 25, 2005 titled ‘Recycling around the world’ said that supermarkets in Switzerland have bottle banks with separate slots for different colours of bottles where residents are encouraged to drop used items.

The report inferred that the Swiss do not recycle for the love of the enterprise but that for each refuse bag collected from their homes, they have to pay some money, so reducing the number of bags through taking selected items to free public pick up points reduces the charge.

Some 9000 tonnes of waste generated in Lagos

A United States Environmental Protection Agency report states that in the year 2013, 34.3 per cent of waste was recycled in America.

From Investigations carried out in Nigeria, the Lagos State government is the only state government that has invested significant resources in recycling. A timely move as 9,000 tonnes of waste is being generated daily within the metropolis which is home to quite a number of Ghanaians.

In a chat with Peter Inegbedion a Director of Environment in one of the local government areas in another state, he gives an insight into the level of awareness by government; “We are yet to key in as a local government or as a state,” he said in a chat at his office.

Minutes later at a meeting with his subordinates, he decides to take the bull by the horns to enlighten officials of the waste management agency who minutes before in a prayer session, prayed fervently for their unpaid salaries to be paid on the benefits of recycling.

The governments in most states of the federation in Nigeria seem to be dragging their feet on finding alternative ways of paying salaries, but some members of the private sector see recycling as a viable way to reduce poverty.

“We use the resources made from engaging in recycling to help the less privileged,” says Effiom Duke, the acting Programme Coordinator of the Green Concern for Development Partners, an NGO based in Cross River State.

He describes the process, which includes gathering sachet water packs, compressing it into bails and sending it in a truckload to Lagos to be processed by a factory that produces plastic items. He talked about the low involvement of government in supporting the initiative in practical terms, which he says will go a long way in reducing poverty.

Similarly, in Benin-City, even though the operators of a recycling initiative known as Recycle Exchange have no support from the government they are trying to make strides as well. In the outfit, a coordinator named Peter, is in charge of collecting items like plastic bottles, and so on, that have already been assembled from various sources including homes. Some of these items are washed thoroughly and then used to repackage non-edible products, but he talks about the challenges he faces.

Low support for recycling in Nigeria

He explains that because of the low support for recycling in the country, the company for now engages in the least form of recycling which is washing and repackaging. He also explained that some of their collectors who gather the materials and get paid do not see the need to supply information in a passbook which is designed to record numbers of items collected.

“It is difficult to do this business sometimes as people due to indiscipline and the culture in the wider society of not putting structures in place do not see the need in collecting data which is very integral for development in all the sectors.”

This assertion by Peter is collaborated by his namesake, the Director in the local government environmental agency. He confesses that since they have no recycling unit the agency has no data on recycling.

From his input on the subject, Innocent Edemharia, a Programme’s manager at the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice highlights reasons why most governmental agencies like the Oredo local government environmental unit, in charge of waste disposal will stand to gain from coordinating recycling processes right from the homes where they are generated.

“There is poor waste management, people dispose waste indiscriminately with negative environmental impacts,” he says.

Even on the street near where the NGO is located his words ring true as the environment from time to time is littered with refuse that have not been collected.

Countries in West Africa need to come alive and key into the benefits that would be derived from engaging in recycling as Innocent put it succinctly with the following words, “recycling is a fantastic concept that is conceived out of new thinking.”




Tomra introduces smart reverse vending machines


Tomra, a global provider of reverse vending machines (RVMs) and sensor-based sorting equipment with U.S. headquarters in Shelton, Connecticut, has introduced smart RVMs through its Tomra Connect digital product platform.

The Tomra Connect RVMs offer customer rewards, community involvement and analytics that previously were not available to users.

The company says the portfolio of digital products by Tomra Collection Solutions Digital brings new insights and engagement opportunities, both for the locations providing the RVMs and for the people who recycle with them. Tomra Collection Solutions Digital, which began as an intrapreneurship project in 2014 and is a part of Tomra, develops, innovates and monetizes digital products and solutions to complement and extend the value of RVM usage and ownership, the company says on its website.

Tomra says its approach also is personalizing the recycling experience for millions of people around the world, in turn increasing recycling involvement, ramping up profits for stores and helping the environment.

“Tomra Connect opens up new possibilities for extending the recycling experience and getting to know recyclers,” says Aleksander Mortensen, head of Tomra Collection Solutions Digital. “It’s not just cars and fitness devices connecting to the Internet of Things. Just as smartphones made us expect more from our handsets than simply making calls, with smart reverse vending you get much more from the recycling experience.”

Tomra has more than 75,000 installations in more than 40 markets, often where a deposit is refunded when consumers return their used beverage containers (UBCs). The RVMs identify the can or bottle, give the appropriate refund and can compact the containers for easier transportation.

RVMs with Tomra Connect offer:

  • Points programs: With engagement program Tomra Makes Change, also known as ReAct, consumers can earn points and redeem them for rewards or charitable donations, and share their recycling activity to social media. ReAct has tens of thousands of users in the U.S., who have earned millions of points. This engagement program can complement deposit refunds or act as an incentive in markets without deposit legislation.
    Marketing and donation: The machine’s touch screen turns the system into a marketing touchpoint. Consumers can donate their deposit refund to a local charity, and retailers can promote daily specials or show seasonal campaigns – all administered remotely. Retailers also can print coupons on refund receipts.
    Notifications: Smartphone app Notify + Assist pushes real-time notifications to personnel when machines require attention (such as for full bins, stops or low printer paper) and gives step-by-step guidance on how to remedy the issue.
    Insights: Analytics pulls business intelligence from big data. It shows queueing time, how well the machine was cleaned, recycling volumes for different times of day (for the purpose of helping sites providing the machines, typically retailers, to plan ahead for busy periods) and other data.
    Anti-fraud: Tomra Connect combats fraud attempts (like someone trying to redeem the same deposit amount twice) through real-time validation and devaluation of refund receipts.

Tomra Connect is not Tomra’s first foray into remote communication for its recycling returns machines. In the 1980s, Tomra used dial-up connectivity to transmit software and databases, as well as download log files and statistics. The 1990s saw the implementation of networking and IP. Tomra Connect represents third-generation connectivity, which moves that infrastructure to the cloud and unites previous local offerings under one umbrella.

Consumers deliver 35 billion UBCs every year to Tomra machines. The company says this reduces reliance on raw materials to produce new containers and ensures that fewer end up in landfills, oceans and streets. All containers redeemed through Tomra RVMs are recycled.

Visit for more information.

Tomra is part of the Tomra Group, Tomra Systems ASA, which is based in Norway. Founded in 1972, the company designs, manufactures and sells RVMs for automated collection of UBCs. Tomra has two main business areas: Collection Solutions (reverse vending, material recovery and compaction) and Sorting Solutions (recycling, mining and food sorting).

A Play-By-Play of Super Bowl LI’s Waste Diversion Efforts

super bowl

By:Mallory Szczepanski

Approximately 150 new recycling bins were placed throughout NRG Stadium, and about a dozen local agencies helped capture unserved, surplus food from the stadium.


Millions of sports fans (and entertainment fans) tuned in to watch Super Bowl LI yesterday, which concluded with the New England Patriots victory over the Atlanta Falcons in a first-ever Super Bowl overtime. And while those fans were busy munching on tasty snacks, drinking refreshing beverages, cheering on their team and catching up with friends and family, the NFL and the staff at NRG Stadium in Houston were working to divert as much waste from landfill as possible. 

In preparation for the big game, approximately 150 new recycling bins were placed throughout NRG Stadium, and about a dozen local agencies were recruited by the Houston Food Bank to help capture unserved, surplus food from the stadium.

Additionally, NRG Energy Inc. and its subsidiary Reliant partnered with the NFL to provide 100 percent Green-e certified renewable energy to NRG Stadium for a certain time period before, during and after the big game.

“As the official electricity company of NRG Stadium, we are proud to support the NFL and Houston by powering the largest U.S. sporting event with renewable energy certificates together with the onsite efficiency and renewable energy solutions,” said NRG Vice President of Sustainability Bruno Sarda in a statement. “At NRG, we want fans to benefit from sustainable solutions and together with the NFL, we can demonstrate that even a huge event like the Super Bowl can significantly reduce its energy usage.”

These sustainable efforts by NRG and its partners go hand-in-hand with its everyday goals to divert more material from landfill and to make its venues more sustainable.

In 2013, NRG reviewed the amount of materials it was currently recycling and developed new initiatives to help boost its recycling rate. NRG set a goal to recycle 15 percent of its waste in 2014, and it exceeded its expectations by achieving a recycling rate of 17 percent. NRG then set a goal to recycle 20 percent of its waste in 2015, but its recycling rate held steady at 17 percent that year.

NRG has a recycling and waste team and waste subject-matter experts who work with local and state governments and other industrial waste generators to ensure that waste generation and disposal concerns at all of its locations are understood and properly addressed. NRG also has a sourcing team that creates partnerships with waste management and recycling companies to ensure that waste and recycling materials end up in their proper destinations. 

Leading up to the big game, the NFL and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee hosted a variety of environmental-themed events, including a public E-Waste Recycling Rally and the Super Kids – Super Sharing Sports Equipment and Book Donation Event.

At the e-waste recycling rally on January 21, local residents dropped off e-waste items like computers, printers, monitors, cell phones and televisions for safe and proper disposal. And at the Super Kids event on January 19, tens of thousands of books, school supplies, games and sports equipment were collected and donated to low-income schools and youth programs, and unused cell phones and accessories were collected and donated to U.S.-based domestic violence organizations.

Immediately after the Super Bowl, recovery of event materials began and will continue throughout the next week with a drive to collect and donate items left over from the Super Bowl, including building materials, decor, fabric, carpeting and signage. 



“I Don’t Think There should Be Any Landfill Sites…”- Prof. Frimpong Boateng

Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng


Minister Nominee for Environment, Innovation, Science and Technology, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, has said going forward there would be no need for Ghana to have landfill sites, to keep waste which is often burnt, instead of being recycled.

Addressing members of Parliament’s Appointments Committee on how he intends to make use of the country’s excess waste, Dr. Frimpong-Boateng said every form of waste is another raw material to generate energy and other useful things that will benefit the country.

“I don’t think there should be any landfill sites because these things that we call waste are raw material that we need to produce either energy, compost or something else. So we want to come to a point like Sweden, where they want to import waste from other countries so that they can process. So we have to do away with these landfill sites and its attendant problems.”

Ghana spends several millions of cedis in its attempt to manage waste effectively, but has achieved very little over the years. Several parts of the country are still engulfed in filth, despite the introduction of the National Sanitation Day.

Recycling Waste
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng also listed a number of waste products from worn-out car tyres, sawdust, dirty oil, and other forms of urban waste, to create a lot of useful things that will benefit the country in saving the environment and generating revenue.

“There are a lot of wastes; I will start with lorry tyres which are everywhere. We will intend to do a recycling to convert them into fuel; we have dirty engine oil which is thrown into gutters. The oil itself doesn’t change although it is dirty; so the technology will be to remove those additives and impurities and then we can still make money from it and save our environment. We also want to recycle hard plastics which can be used again. We want to do E-waste or electronic waste which is also possible” he noted.

Landfill sites are a source of conflict between city authorities and residents in the communities they are located. Residents of Oblogo, Achimota, and other towns across the country complain about the stench and diseases caused by the landfill sites. In some places, city authorities have been forced to shut down sites due to protests from residents.

About Prof. Frimpong Boateng
Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng is a trained physician and cardiothoracic surgeon who established the National Cardiothoracic Center and the Ghana Red Cross Society.

He is also the President of the Ghana Heart Foundation and was once the Chief Executive Officer of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.

In March 2006, he announced his intention to contest the New Patriotic Party presidential primaries for the December 2008 National Presidential Elections.

He however lost in his attempt against now President-elect, Nana Akuffo-Addo, who had subsequently lost the 2008 elections to the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC), John Evans Atta-Mills.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng is married with five children, and he’s very passionate about science and technology, which remains pivotal to any country’s development.