Plastic Credit Initiatives Emerge as a Solution for Waste Management in Africa

Nairobi – At the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, global discussions are underway focusing on plastic pollution, especially in developing countries where waste management infrastructure is lacking. These discussions are part of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC3) meeting, where plastic credit initiatives have been highlighted as a promising temporary solution for eliminating plastic waste.

According to Africa Science News, the Africa Carbon and Commodities (ACC) managing director, Nicole Dewing, detailed the Deekali project, which was launched in 2021 under the VERRA plastic waste Reduction program in West Africa. This initiative, based in Senegal, is the first of its kind in Africa and is driving the agenda of plastic credit on the continent. Dewing explained that plastic credits, purchased by companies looking to offset their plastic impact, support the collection and recycling of plastic waste. This ten-year project, after which the Senegal government will take over, aims to upscale and enhance plastic waste collection and recycling processes.

Dewing emphasized that plastic credits allow the private sector to validate and finance plastic collection and recycling activities in Africa. She also encouraged other African countries to adopt similar initiatives, contributing to permanent solutions to combat plastic production and pollution.

However, Dewing addressed misconceptions about plastic credits, noting that some stakeholders in the waste management and recycling sector misunderstand the concept. There’s a concern that it might give multinational companies the green light for mass plastic production.

At the INC3 event in Nairobi, Dewing highlighted her initiative’s capacity to generate plastic credits for collection and recycling operations across Africa. She explained that a plastic credit is a tradable certificate representing the recycling or collection of one metric ton of plastic waste from the environment.

Dewing acknowledged challenges in advancing plastic credit initiatives in West Africa, citing poverty, low technological innovation, illiteracy, and strict standards set by VERRA. Despite these challenges, her vision is to expand these initiatives to other West African countries and even to Ethiopia in Eastern Africa.

Sir Mamadou, Director of the Africa Carbon and Commodities in Senegal, affirmed the potential of plastic credits to aid Africa in achieving a circular economy. He urged for an immediate halt to plastic importation into the continent and called on African governments to adopt effective waste management policies and regulations. Mamadou praised Rwanda for its proactive steps and emphasized the need for multinational companies to assume End Producer Responsibility (EPR) to mitigate environmental impact. He also highlighted the importance of establishing infrastructure to support circular economy approaches to waste management.