Zimbabwe: Recycling Industry Gains Momentum

While most of us continue to see the used plastic bottles and waste in general as nothing more than litter, there are some that have finally realised that there is money to be made from waste.

And now they are doing all they can to not only rid the country of a persistent problem but are making quite an awesome living through it. Last week this column concentrated on Tisunungureiwo Cooperative operating from the Graniteside industrial area, a cooperative that buys all kinds of recyclable waste, sorts it out and stores it for resale.

This week, in an attempt to establish just how well the recycling industry is fairing in the country, StandardLife&Style embarked on a mission to find exactly who it is that buys the used plastic bottles that organisations such as Tisunungureiwo would have gone to such great trouble to collect.

Paying a surprise visit at Number 21 Conald Road in the Graniteside industrial area, where CS Plastics, formerly known as Save$Centre is located, Life&Style was left more than convinced that the recycling industry has finally become a reality in Zimbabwe. CS Plastics is one of the recycling companies that purchase the used plastic bottles that Tisunungureiwo Cooperative would have stored.

Most consumers might not actually be aware of it, but the bulk of the plastic buckets that we store our water in and the plastic cups we buy from the different retailers countrywide actually come from the many Cascade, Mahewu and PET bottles that we would have used and more often than not, carelessly discarded of.

Having collected the countless bottles, CS Plastics then tasks themselves with thoroughly cleaning each and every single bottle before they are sorted according to their types, chipped and placed in the injection machine, the machine used to manufacture plastic products, through the injection moulding process.

In less than five minutes of processing, they would have produced an array of highly marketable plastic products, mostly 15 and 20-litre containers as well as buckets, dishes and cups.

"On a normal working day, we can make about 500 15-litre or 400 20-litre buckets which we then supply to retailers all over Zimbabwe," said Commander Gwatinyanya, an assistant machine operator at CS Plastics.

Asked whether it was hygienic to use the used and often dirty plastic bottles to make such products as kitchen utensils like cups, Gwatinyanya said they only used the used bottles to make buckets and dishes as they purchased what they called "virgin plastic", which would not have been used before, from such companies as AI Davies.

CS Plastics are ready to provide transport to collect plastics that weigh a tonne and more.

"People should never burn plastics. The least that they can do is put it in the bins and we will come and relieve them of it, and we will pay for it," Gwatinyanya said.

And indeed, many people have as a result found a way to make a decent living. That is why nowadays it is no longer rare to come across people scrapping through bins, carrying bags full of used plastic bottles.

But most importantly, this is a true reflection that as a country, Zimbabwe has come of age and is on the right track to helping restore our now degraded environment.

Recycling is definitely the way to go!

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