One year after the use of single-use plastics and single-use plastics were banned, only 9,000 tons of waste were reprocessed out of the 200,000 pieces of plastic produced each year.
A group of people gathered around Modu Waterfall, wearing a hundred colorful pouches. Everyone wants to take a picture of the “plastic man”, an activist who has been fighting pollution in Senegal for 15 years. He came to attract attention in Guédiawaye, a popular area on the outskirts of Dakar. One year after the “Law on Prevention of Plastic Dangers” came into effect, “The cups wandering in the street are gone, but there are still no industrially recycled bags.”Rights activists pointed out. Senegal still produces 200,000 tons of plastic waste each year, of which only 9,000 tons are reprocessed. The rest is dumped in nature and the ocean.
The first law passed in 2015 prohibits the use of so-called “low-micron” bags, which are thin and not very strong, making them difficult to reuse. Improperly applied, the text was repealed and replaced by the 2020 law. The latter prohibits the use of disposable or disposable plastics, such as cups, cutlery, straws or bags. Products that are still found in large numbers on the market… But we have made efforts: In 2020, the police carried out 182 control operations and intercepted 70 tons of banned plastics, more than half of which were in the Dakar area. According to the Ministry of Environment, the customs has also carried out other seizures, but did not provide relevant data.
“Cups serving coffee on the street have begun to be replaced by paper cups, and supermarkets prohibit the use of plastic bags at checkout. But we have problems with the availability of alternative materials.”Baba Dramé, the environmental director of the ministry, expressed his appreciation.
Although 5 million plastic bags are still used every day, only 15 million papers are industrially produced every year. “It is still necessary to adopt statutes on certain regulations, especially regarding the price of plastic waste, taxes on non-recyclable products or the organization of bottling systems.”, Listed Mr. Dramé, which pointed out that the delay was due to Covid-19.
To speed up the transition, the civil society coalition Andandoo Bayyi Plastique sent the authorities a list of 13 recommendations inspired by a study by the Heinrich-Böll Foundation in Germany. Aisha Conté, spokesperson and chairman of the Senegal Zero Waste Federation, pointed out that, for example, water bags are still being distributed across the country. “This is prohibited, but there are so many production units employing many young people, so state support and the development of measures to encourage retraining are necessary.”, The activist believes that he called for the law to be promoted and interpreted in local languages.
On a smaller scale, Modou Fall organizes free training to learn how to recycle tires and turn them into garden furniture. Other companies are starting their own businesses, such as Banda Ngom, managing director of Recup Plastik Utile, which recycles and reuses waste. It takes 275 kg of plastic to build a public bench, and it costs to make 80 1.5-liter bottles from bricks. The entrepreneur has installed several benches in the city of Saint-Louis and used his ecological paving stones on the campus. “Each student should bring back a bottle of wine every week for two to four months. Then, I recycle them into pebbles, which will be used in their school.”, The entrepreneur explained that he is committed to let children receive education about waste separation. Ambitious, he now dreams that his project will create green jobs and gradually turn to clean Senegal.