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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
03 november 2007

BID Seminar: Organic waste now asset in Bangladesh

Waste Concern Consultants is an NGO in Bangladesh, that has received international recognition for its ‘community-based composting’ program. It specialises in setting up small-scale projects that stimulate the local population to collect and compost organic waste that can be used in agriculture. At the end of last year, the Bengali NGO together with the Netherlands-based World Wide Recycling (WWR) started the large scale compost of waste in the capital Dhaka, for which it signed a concession contract with the local authorities. The ultimate capacity of its biofertilizer plant will be 700 tons of waste per day.

According to Jan Boone of WWR, having a reliable local partner was a critical for the project’s success. Its registration as a CDM project – through which carbon credits can be earned – was also essential as it made the project ‘bankable’. Boone, who spoke at a seminar in Utrecht last Wednesday on Waste and Recycling (organised by NCDO/Business in Development, in cooperation with WASTE, VAR and COS Utrecht), concluded from two earlier – failed – projects in Brazil that it is an illusion to think that governments in developing countries will pay for the processing of waste, like they do in western countries. ‘Dumping is cheap and laws against it do not exist or are not enforced, which means that you have to make waste an asset. You create employment by making new products out of it, and fuels.’

Waste management contributes to sustainable development and innovation, and it offers many opportunities to local communities. Take the case of the plastic recycling factory in Kampala, Uganda. The machinery was built in the Netherlands by the company Envirotech and shipped to Uganda last year. Its local partner initiated a collection system for plastics and advertised in the media that it was willing to pay cash per kilo plastics. This resulted in all kind of communal initiatives to collect plastics from local neighbourhoods. 43 people found work in the factory, hundreds of others earn a living collecting the plastics. The environment substantially profited from the initiative, and sewage systems no longer get clogged by the plastics. The clean end product is sold to China where it is made into fibres for fleece and carpets.
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