Ethiopia: Petco Recycles Post-Consumer Plastic Bottles

Recycling is one of the social enterprise businesses. Recycling is an indispensible mechanism for tackling air pollution and chemical intoxication as well as for climate robust. Recycling by-products is key to solve social and environmental problems. It is also a means for the handling of waste management.

To get clean and neat urban cities, rural areas, there should be a way to manage the waste products properly through handling the by-products to use, reuse and recycle formats. It as well enables to create job opportunities as aform of self-employed, entrepreneurs and social enterprenesurship activities. Nowadays, many individuals, particularly, youths are involved in the activity of recycling products.

In this regard, the General Manager of Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization, Mihret Teklemariam, has an assessment on the handling of waste resources to reuse, use and recycle them. Excerpts:

Herald: What are the main reasons behind the establishment of PETCO Recycling Organization?

Mihret: PETCO Ethiopia is the trading name of the PET Recycling Company, a company incorporated in 2019 to represent the Ethiopian PET plastic industry's joint effort to self-regulate post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling.

PETCO's unique model is built on the simple principle of an industry -driven and financed environmental solution for post-consumer plastic bottles. The plastics industry acknowledges that the convenience and life-saving qualities of plastics aside, a solution for post-consumer plastic packaging is critical in order to minimize its impact on the environment.

To achieve this everyone involved, from the raw material producers, the converters, brand owners, retailers, consumers and recyclers are playing their part in the solution, with PETCO fulfilling the plastic bottles industry's role of extended producer responsibility and/or begin socially responsible companies. Therefore all preform producers, raisin importers, water and soft drink bottlers, PET collectors, converters, and recyclers are members of PETC O Ethiopia.

PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization is established to facilitate the corporate social responsibility interventions of bottlers and recyclers for environment conservation associated with plastic bottles' products throughout their life cycles.

By taking responsibility for post-consumer plastic bottles recycling, PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization coordinates and facilitates the entire life cycle of plastic bottles' products and tasks of packaging. This means that companies that manufacture, import and/or sell plastic bottles' products and packaging are financially and physically responsible for such products after their useful life.

Ongoing consumer and public education as well as awareness activities promote environmental responsibility and encourage plastic bottles recycling. PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization operates throughout Ethiopia and has its head office offices in Addis Ababa.

Herald: What are the challenges the organization faced so far?

Mihret: COVID-19 is the major challenge. Since we have officially started working in January 2020, we found it very difficult to mobilize our members, collectors and related due to the restrictive movement we have. We had also an intention to open our offices on the regional states which again became difficult due to COVID-19.

Herald: Would you please, tell us about other countries' experiences in recycling productions?

Mihret: PETCO South Africa which was instated in 2004 and PETCO Kenya which was initiated in 2018 work representing the plastic bottles industry in their respective countries like PETCO Ethiopia.

Herald: Doing recycling through processes of reuse, recycling making any positive impacts for the country?

Mihret: Plastics recycling conserves natural resources, saves energy, and contributes to the circular economy by bringing back the plastic to the market, creating many jobs, attracting foreign and home-grown investment as well as facilitating export driven market to causing foreign currency. In plastic collection and recycling activities, many youth and women can get jobs.

Mihret: Thus far PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization has mobilized the bottling and recycling industry to put joint effort and become responsible for the environment. Furthermore, it has managed to recruit member organizations for handling water and soft drink bottlers, perform producers, collectors and recyclers, who could voluntarily work on the environment. So far, PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization has 36 members who are interested to support the plastic recycling initiatives.

PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization has also designed different community based projects which are under implementation. Women Empowerment through Recycling at Entoto Park is one of the projects we are implementing currently. The major targets of this project are 263 poor women who used to work on Fuel Wood collection and selling in the newly initiated Entoto Park.

This project gives the women the opportunities to reach financial independence, support their families, and strengthen their communities. This women empowerment is done by providing access to working inputs such as Electric cars, Protective closes, Bailing machines, waste bins and other ; providing business skills training, access to mentoring and networks, as well as financial services. The project is constructing a semi recycling station in the park which will be serving the women as a working site.

We have also identified 20 Plastic bottle collection associations in Addis Ababa and assisting them in various aspects to accelerate the collection and recycling of plastic bottles. This is mainly done by providing practical trainings, providing various inputs, upgrading their working stations and creating market link for the collectors.

Herald: Does the government support your organization? If yes, brief us about that?

Mihret: Definitely, Addis Ababa Solid Waste Management Agency, Addis Ababa women and Children Affairs Office, environment and climate commission and other government organizations highly support us and we do various projects jointly.

Herald: Tell us about the activities of PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization?

Mihret: PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization is a non-profit organization incorporated in 2019 to represent the Ethiopian plastic industry's joint effort to self-regulate post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate recycling.

PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization seeks to minimize the environmental impact of post-consumer plastic bottles on the Ethiopian landscape through growing the collection and recycling of plastic bottles after consumer use. And as well as supporting existing and encourage new collection and recycling initiatives.

And it has promoted a strong focus on public, consumer education and awareness programs. PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization operates throughout Ethiopia and has its head office in Addis Ababa.

We invest all our funds in ensuring and encouraging visible recycling through means of generating fresh and continuous data on the overall magnitude, distribution, recycling, and management of Plastic bottles. It also contracts to contract and finance plastic bottle recyclers who collect bottles, process them into recycled plastic bottles in preparation for the manufacture of new products.

And as well it focuses on consumer educational, awareness, training and joint venture projects, including those with government offices. It works on equipment support and sponsorship for collectors and guidance relating to designing for recycling ensuring products, is compatible with local recycling infrastructure as well as developing the end-user market.

Herald: Does your organization have engaging in women empowerment program?

Mihret: As an integral part of PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization's environmental conservation and women economic empowerment program, we have designed a project entitled "women empowerment through plastic bottles recycling at Entoto Park".

The major targets of this project are 263 poor women who used to work on fuel wood collection and selling in the newly initiated Entoto Park. This project gives the women the opportunities to reach financial independence, support their families, and strengthen their communities.

This is done by providing access to working inputs such as electric cars, Protective closes, Bailing machines, waste bins and other ; providing business skills training, access to mentoring and networks, as well as financial services. The project is constructing a semi recycling station in the park which will be serving the women as a working site.

Herald: What are the ongoing projects of your organization?

Mihret: As part of this project PETCO Ethiopia Recycling Community Organization will be providing a three days practical training on waste management and recycling for 263 women in collaboration with Addis Ababa Women and Children Bureau and Addis Ababa solid waste management agency.

The training is conducted from September 2 to September 4, 2020, at coba impact recycling plant which is located around Kality. The opening ceremony was done in the morning in the presence of government and non-government organization representatives.

More From: Ethiopian Herald

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