In Mozambique, plastic helps study and kill hunger | Recycling

16-year-old Madalena Júlio hand-picks plastics at Mozambique’s largest landfill to support her family. He joined this company three years ago.

“I started to be beaten because my mother didn’t have the money to pay for school. I used to pick up trash to sell and buy notebooks, ”he says while waiting in the payment queue for plastic sold at a recycling company on the outskirts of the Hulene landfill, Maputo .

The father is disabled and the mother is unemployed.

The trash can is the source of survival for the family of 11 who live a few meters away.

Madalena ventured into the trash during the fifth year of schooling and today, in the eighth, she continues the days of collecting plastics with the two brothers.

Ricardo Franco / Lusa

“We have a corner [na lixeira] where we accumulate plastic until it is enough to sell it, ”explains Madalena.

Collecting plastic in Maputo, a business dominated mainly by young people and women, has been the income base for many families, especially those living near the landfill.

Beside, Lisete Boavida, 57, joined the same struggle in 2000 to support five children, after being abandoned by her husband.

“I started and my life continues today,” he emphasizes. “I have been successful in raising my children and I have grandchildren. Thanks to the work there [na lixeira], builds a house ”, which although precarious, has“ energy and water ”.

Lisete and Madalena always cross paths when delivering the plastic balls to the company collection point which separates them and washes them.

Ricardo Franco / Lusa

Eleven cents per kilo

“We have a machine that grinds and washes at the same time. The result is clean plastic, ready to be sent to a factory, to be melted and processed, ”explains Luís Stramota, executive director of Valor Plastic, a recycling company in Maputo.

The plastic waste sold there has already been used in bottles, bags, bowls, bowls, drums and cosmetic containers.

The morning is hectic in the company, every moment new scavengers arrive loaded with plastics, on their heads or in hand cars (‘tchovas’), the machines “snore” without stopping and the space to circulate is growing. tightens.

Valor Plastic has approximately 800 registered collectors and processes approximately 12-14 tonnes of plastic per day.

According to Stramota, the Hulene landfill receives around 1,000 tonnes of waste per day, including around 120 to 160 tonnes of plastic, indicating that “there is a large collection operation and many families live there”.

“In the last few months, we’ve processed around 800 tonnes. The fact that a value has been attributed to plastic makes people look for it and collect it, ”adds Luís Stramota.

New life for plastic waste

From Valor Plastic, waste that has already become a raw material goes to Topack, one of the few companies in Mozambique that transforms plastic waste into other tools, giving it new life, completing a cycle.

“Recycling allows us to reuse the same products a number of times, reducing the impact on our environment,” says Jaime Lima, CEO of Topack.

“We buy and collect plastic from other industries and waste pickers. We do the selection by type and then there is the transformation process, ”he explains.

There is a deafening noise in the factory: big machines are in operation to give “new life” to plastic waste, an activity which employs around 200 people.

Ricardo Franco / Lusa

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“We convert raw material and recycled plastic into products that can be used at home, in other industries, as well as in logistics,” says Lima.

Everything happens as in a touch of magic: pieces of plastic enter a machine and in 30 seconds a bowl is ready to be used or another utensil, depending on the mold: hangers, bowls, sugar bowls, water tanks, chairs , tables or boxes for the beverage industry.

“The great pleasure it is to work in this industry is to be able to help others, to see the reaction of ‘mamas’ and young people when they sell us the plastic and they know that they are guaranteed at least the meal. of the day, ”concludes Luís Stramota.

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