The work on the Plastic Recycling into School Tables project began in January 2020 with an awareness campaign by the local team to provide information to the administrative authorities in Mali (Sikasso) and Burkina Faso (Koloko).
In conjunction with this, environmental meetings were organized. The first environmental meeting concerning the repurposing of plastic garbage was held in March 2020 and informed the interested parties about the project and the environmental challenges regarding plastic garbage and climate changes and raised awareness about the health concerns that arise due to the haphazard discharging of and the illegal dumping of waste.
During the second environmental meeting, the women were selected to participate in the hygiene training program and per country, a 25-person committee was created to address the recycling of plastic. Two storage sites for plastic waste were created, one in Koloko (Burkina Faso) and one in Finkolo (Mali).
Five training modules/curricula (theory and practice) were developed for the hygiene training program:
- General, 2. Legal matters, 3. Waste and special plastic disposal (pre-treatment, cutting, packaging and transport), 4. Health and safety, 5. Environmental and health implications of improper waste disposal.
With the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic in mid-March 2020, the local team incorporated the necessary protection and hygiene requirements into the training activities. The outbreak of the pandemic in Mali and Burkina Faso caused a delay in the project implementation. After the easing of the Covid related restrictions in June, progress quickly resumed on the project.
With the support of the technical environmental services in both countries, the women were able to transport the plastic to Bougoula, where the materials will be used to make school tables as soon as the tools and equipment are ready to go.
Protective gear for the women was made available.
The women can already sell repurposed plastic to the community to generate income for themselves and their families.
Planning of a plant for the collection, recycling and production of school benches using plastic waste
The construction plan for a 93 square meter plant in Sikasso, Mail shows a workshop, a drying station, a sorting area, a building area, a storage unit, and an office.
The development and building of a modern machine to reprocess plastic waste for use in building school tables is in progress. Two additional machines for the processing of plastic garbage and for the creation of a liquid paste needed for repurposing have been ordered.
The topics of hygiene and safety were discussed during the training program and increased awareness regarding the importance of good hygiene practices such as handwashing and wearing protective face masks to limit the spread of the virus.