How we do business and perceive the world has been informed for many years by the concepts of Recycling and Upcycling. So our first introduction to Trashy Bags during a trip to Accra was exciting to say the least.
Trashy Bags is a social enterprise that makes recycled eco-friendly bags and gifts from plastic trash. They employ over sixty local people to collect, clean and stitch plastic trash into bags and other products. Packaging and “billboard flex film” waste is a huge problem worldwide, not just in Ghana. But a growing issue in parts of world where clean drinking water isn’t readily available is the build-up of spent “water sachets”—non biodegradable plastic water pouches.
It is estimated that in Ghana, waste produced from plastic packaging amounts to 270 tonnes per day; most of it non-biodegradable. That adds up to over 22,000 tons of plastic in one year.
This figure has risen in just ten years by about 70%. Despite this rise, it is estimated that only 2% of plastic waste is recycled. You may ask what happens to the remaining 98%.
Plastic sachets have become a big problem across Africa because of the lack of recycling initiatives and waste management infrastructure, and although we don’t see them in Kerala, a recent visit to neighboring states have taught us that it’s a growing problem in India as well.
With this the goal of some “south-south” learning we began to research how we could create a similar initiative. A little detective work taught us that billboard flex already has a significant secondary market in India, used as covers for lorries, temporary shops, as well as homes. In other words, despite the huge quantities printed annually, there isn’t as much actual waste as one would think. The water sachets are another story however.
We hope to be part of the solution on that front. Stay tuned!