Afri-Plastics second challenge calls for innovators to reduce, eliminate plastic use in sub-Saharan Africa

6th October 2021 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

The second Afri-Plastics Challenge initiative, called Creating Solutions, calls for applications from individuals and organisations with new or early-stage ideas to reduce or eliminate plastic use across sub-Saharan Africa.

For the Creating Solutions challenge, 25 finalists and three winners will be selected by a panel of experienced and professional judges. The applicants’ ideas will be evaluated against criteria such as innovation, empowerment of women and girls, social impact in the community, environmental impact and the applicants’ capability to achieve success.

Successful community-centred products and services will have demonstrated a sustainable approach to reducing the reliance on plastic that also supports the empowerment of women and girls.

In the long-term, the development and scaling of the innovators’ solutions will encourage the creation of new, sustainable local enterprises, bringing economic opportunity to these communities and contributing to poverty reduction.

The Afri-Plastics Challenge aims to reduce marine plastics in sub-Saharan African countries by developing and scaling innovative solutions to plastic mismanagement, minimise reliance on plastic and develop new ways of managing plastic waste, as well as develop new uses for plastic that has been discarded.

In recent years, the demand for plastic in sub-Saharan Africa has substantially increased, with over 17-million tonnes of waste generated by the region a year, of which only 12% is recycled.

"While scaling plastic waste collection and recycling is crucial, it cannot solve the problem alone. The quantities of waste produced easily outpace the development of waste management systems, and recycling is still not an economically or technically viable option for several types of plastic," UK innovation organisation and challenge implementing partner Nesta Challenges said.

The Afri-Plastics Challenge is funded by the Canadian government and is designed for innovators and entrepreneurs across the African continent.

Individuals and organisations can find information on and apply through the Afri-Plastics Challenge website. Applications close on December 1.

"It is extremely exciting to be part of an initiative committed to finding innovative solutions that promote the circular plastic economy while simultaneously improving the social economic standing of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa," says Zambian social entrepreneur Radhia Mtonga, who is also one of the challenge judges alongside United Nations Environment Programme Africa director and regional representative Dr Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo and solid waste management expert Matthew Haden.