Tomra Recycling’s bottle-to-bottle sorting solutions in a new recycling plant.

The strain of mismanaged waste and legislation pushes

The problem of waste piling up in nature is a prevalent issue of global proportions and countries in Africa are no exception to this. Lacking investments and insufficient waste management infrastructure in some regions make it difficult to promote high quality recycling without downgrading plastics. Given the fact that the African population is predicted to double by 2025 and a rapidly growing volume of post-consumer plastic waste, the need to find solutions and set up legislations to enable recycling and mitigate plastic pollution becomes even more urgent.

Despite the challenges, the continent is taking strong action in tackling plastic waste. A complete or partial ban on plastic carrier bags has already been introduced in 30 countries to combat plastic waste blocking waterways and drainage systems. Apart from that, countries like South Africa have recognized the enormous potential of legislation such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to finance and advance waste and recycling infrastructure. EPR schemes give brand owners (producers) the responsibility for the adequate and sustainable management of the plastic products they place on the market and therefore help to make sure that plastic waste is properly managed, from design to the end of a product’s lifecycle. Whereas Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria already have an EPR system in place, South Africa only made it mandatory for plastic packaging importers and manufacturers in 2021. Thus, brand owners, whether they operate locally or globally, are asked to adhere to the regulatory framework and contribute to achieving the goals set. “With Bariq investing in the new facility in Egypt and using the latest sorting equipment, we jointly give brand owners in Africa access to larger quantities of high-quality rPET resin which help them meet the recycled content targets as well as their individual pledges. I am delighted that our collaboration which has already started 10 years ago, has led us to make a considerable change in Africa”, concludes Tasos Bereketidis, Regional Director Emerging Markets at TOMRA Recycling.