Added: Feb 17, 2021
Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
Mr Green Africa is an innovative circular economy company reshaping the waste plastic value chain to create tangible social, environmental and economic impact.
Many types of plastic that are ‘recycled’ in Kenya are often exported to another country. The few that are recycled locally are often downcycled into a product of lower value. The vast stocks of plastic waste could in fact be considered a resource if we could ‘close the loop’, i.e., use old plastic to make new plastic products. For example, bottle-to-bottle recycling, in which, once the contents of a water bottle are consumed, the container is collected, processed and turned into a new water bottle. This could save on the costs of importing virgin materials and the associated pollution and environmental degradation, as well as create huge numbers of local jobs.
Mr Green Africa (MGA) collects, converts and sells more than 140 metric tonnes of post-consumer plastic per month, operating 15 trading points in Nairobi. About half comes directly from informal waste pickers, representing a regular supply from around 550 of Kenya’s most marginalised workers. MGA focuses on three types of plastics (HDPE, PP and PET), and is experimenting with collecting and processing ‘flexible’ single-use plastic. MGA converts this post-consumer plastic ‘waste’ into valuable material, which is sold to local manufacturers, including suppliers of packaging to Unilever and other strategic partners. MGA works with fast moving consumer goods companies and third-party plastics manufacturers to three-way offtake agreements for high quality post-consumer recycled content, helping partners to realize their sustainable packaging goals by accessing ethically sourced and locally produced material. They have strategic partnerships with Unilever, Dow and TOTAL. With Unilever they have developed the Waste Picker Transformation Journey to provide waste pickers with access to benefits, goods and services that improve their quality of life. With Dow they are piloting an app that links drivers with consumers for household pick up of plastic waste. The TOTAL pilots aggregation centres at TOTAL petrol stations, allowing customers to gain points for bringing their plastics, and redeem those points at TOTAL shops. They secured Series A funding in 2019 and have since doubled their revenues
This case study has been created as part of Footprints Africa's work to build the first ever comprehensive mapping of circular economy initiatives in Africa. This will lay the foundation open-source database that can inspire local initiatives, as well as inform the global dialogue, which is largely focused on the European and American contexts. We are doing this in collaboration with the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN). ACEN's vision is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity inclusive of all its people through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources.
The objective is to build an open-source database featuring 500 cases by the end of 2021, with strong regional representation. These will feature in the Knowledge Hub and are also being mapped by GRID-Arendal.
Use waste as a resource
Rethink the business model
Team up to create joint value
Incorporate digital technology