EcoAct Tanzania Green Life

EcoAct
Published: 14 June 2021
Last edited: 14 June 2021
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Summary

EcoAct Tanzania is a social enterprise established in 2018 to address the challenges of plastic pollution in coastal ecosystems. EcoAct uses chemical-free and energy-conserving plastic extrusion technology called "Waxy ıı Technology" to recycle and transform post-consumer plastics, packaging materials, and agricultural waste into durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumbers. Plastic lumbers are an affordable alternative to wood timbers, that reduce the need for building material manufactured from wood. Plastic lumbers made from recycled waste plastics and agricultural waste is an ideal product for construction building and furniture making. This product helps to preserve coastal forests like mangroves used in the construction of beach hotels, to cut down on deforestation rates, and to mitigate climate change. Also, they create sustainable jobs by manufacturing and selling eco-friendly quality building products that exceed the expectations of customers.

 

Classifications

Region
East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Beach
Buildings and facilities
Coral reef
Estuary
Freshwater ecosystems
Mangrove
Marine and coastal ecosystems
River, stream
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Theme
Agriculture
Cities and infrastructure
Coastal and marine spatial management
Fisheries and aquaculture
Health and human wellbeing
Infrastructure maintenance
Local actors
Marine litter
Mitigation
Pollution
Science and research
Sustainable livelihoods
Tourism
Transport
Urban planning
Waste management
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
City management, governance and finance
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Urban poverty and housing
Challenges
Floods
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Infrastructure development
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Lack of infrastructure
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company

Location

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Challenges

Plenty of solid waste can be found everywhere within the city and around homes, of which 38% is plastic. While both the local administrators and environmental legal bodies understand the health risks involved, the lack of financial and technological capability has left the city residents grasping for help. Landfill and burning is the most common method used in Dar-es-Salaam. On the other hand, the growing demand for timber in building and construction activities is putting a lot of pressure on the country’s forests (Tanzania loses 300,000 to 400,000 hectares of forest every year). EcoAct realized that if only they could produce an alternative product to timber that was strong, longer-lasting, cheaper, and environmentally sustainable, they could profit from the profitable timber market while helping to save Tanzania’s forests.

Beneficiaries

Local communities receiving medical insurance in exchange for their waste plastics and those employed directly and indirectly by the company. For example, waste pickers, transporters and temporary employment of graduates to market our products.

How do the building blocks interact?

Employing innovative environmentally friendly solutions saves the environment from deforestation, pollution, and climate change while creating sustainable jobs by manufacturing and selling eco-friendly quality building products that exceed the expectations of customers. All these are achieved through a strong working team, formulating a 5-year strategic plan and, establishing partnerships with key stakeholders working in the sector. 

Impacts

EcoAct has collected about 20 tons of plastic and made 700 plastic lumbers which have all been sold to hotels in Zanzibar and Arusha, thereby generating income. Many truck drivers earn income by renting out their cars to EcoAct to collect plastic waste from designated centers. Also, EcoAct has a three years strategic plan that ensures the withdraw of over 2.5 million kilograms of post-consumer waste plastic from the environment and use them to manufacture plastic lumbers hence save an estimated 250 acres of forest that would have been cut. At the same time, it prevents 2,500 Tons of Carbon dioxide gas emissions to further mitigate climate change and has created 300 direct jobs. EcoAct has provided medical insurance to 100 households in slums located in Tegeta (along Tegeta river which empty to the Indian Ocean) and Goba targeting family members (fathers, mother, and three children). In return, households collect three kilograms of plastics from the garbage they produce at home every week. The program offers the community an incentive to start organized waste management and waste entrepreneurship system from the household level so as to benefit from continual health insurance. EcoAct is buying plastic flakes from other people who own crashing centers in different regions thereby on average collecting 50 tons of plastic per month.

Story

EcoAct

The idea of establishing EcoAct came from the desire to clean up the environment. In the beginning, we collected plastics waste and piled them up until when they were plenty we would sell them to the Chinese. Since it was hard for us to go in the field to pick up the waste, we decided to set up centers for collecting the plastics and started buying from waste pickers as much as one ton every two weeks. But plastic bottles are difficult to collect one ton because they require a lot of space in the storage area. So it was easy to collect buckets, jars, and send them to the Chinese. However, the challenge came that the Chinese were setting a price and they too were buying from waste pickers. This situation brought challenges in terms of pricing. Since the idea was to deal with environmental issues we continued, but sometimes our collections were stolen because control was difficult. And this is because some of the waste pickers were selling to us the same waste stolen from our centers. So in order to have more control we had to make things ourselves. We had seen plastic boards at Kenya EcoPost in 2008/9 they were making poles. Investment became difficult because it needed money. Later, we managed to solicit funds from different sources and we bought a small plastic grinding machine and started selling plastic flakes to the Chinese. Therefore, instead of selling plastics that had a low price, we started selling plastic flakes with added value. In 2018 the price of HDPE was TZS 1200/kg at Chinese factory but TZS 800/kg in streets. At that time the price was high because they were used to make plastic bags that were banned by the government in 2019. HDPPs which are hard drums used to make bags were sold at TZS 900-1000/kg and the street price was TZS 600-650/kg. These bags had no market like plastic bags because they were big as compared to single-use plastic bags. In June 2019, the government made a ban on single-use plastic bags thus, there was no one to buy plastics. Following the plastic ban, we had to make a decision either to close the company or continue with our idea of making poles, but the challenge was that machines were expensive. While we were in the grinding business we saved money to buy an extruder machine. We bought an extruder machine but operations were difficult because of a lack of expertise. Sometimes we were producing curved or cracked poles. Since then we have been learning and we adopted the woodworking technology from Kenya.

 

Contributed by

Lydia Gaspare University of Dar es Salaam, School of Aquatic sciences and Fisheries Technology