Created in 2009 in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, AMOR (Associação MOçambicana de Reciclagem ) has developed a nationwide network to structure the waste recycling sector and, at the same time, help the underprivileged populations of Mozambique. Since 2012, the non-profit organisation’s work has received the support of the Fondation SUEZ. For International Recycling Day, Antoine Belon, executive director of AMOR, explains to open_resource this social and sustainable model of recycling.
Antoine Belon, Executive director of AMOR
What projects is AMOR running in Mozambique?
Antoine Belon: AMOR has 4 key fields of action.
The first focuses on facilities for recycling – we install and maintain what we call “Eco-points”, which are centres where people can take their recyclable waste.
The second focuses on raising awareness through a number of activities, including an environmental education programme in schools. This programme works to provide schools with Eco-points and set up environment clubs to teach children about recycling. Participating schools win “green points” for the amount of material they recycle. These points can then be converted into educational and sports equipment. Since the start of the programme, 35 schools have benefited from the system.
The third line of action focuses on actual waste recovery with a focus on innovation. In Maputo and Matola for example, we realised that organic waste was not being recovered. So we came up with the idea to transform unused biomass into charcoal briquettes, which can be used for cooking, and into charcoal powder, which farmers can use to fertilise their soil. As over 90% of Mozambicans living in towns and cities cook with charcoal, the advantages are two-fold – we are reducing the quantity of organic waste produced every day and we are helping to reduce deforestation. Every day 4,200 tonnes of wood are needed to supply just two towns with enough charcoal. We offer farmers charcoal powder made using the same process (Biochar), which fertilises sandy soil and helps it retain more water.
Another example of our work in waste recovery is the collection of 200 litres of used cooking oil from restaurants in Maputo, which we then convert into biodiesel. Our trucks now run on this clean fuel!
Finally, the fourth field of action is to create a favourable environment for recycling on a national scale. To achieve this, we have set up a work group with the Ministry of the Environment and are currently working on Extended Producer Responsibility measures.
Can you tell us more about the Eco-point system?
A.B: In 2010, we installed shipping containers in Mozambique’s urban areas. These containers have been turned into recycling centres for local people to dispose of or buy recyclable waste. Individuals, shops and companies can take their waste to these Eco-points and, for some types of waste, collect compensation. The Eco-point manager then sorts the waste before selling it on to the waste recovery sector. To begin with, all types of waste were accepted at Eco-points but now only waste with genuine economic value, such as glass bottles, metal cans, paper, cardboard and hard plastic, is accepted. As well as its environmental benefits, the system has a strong social dimension – local underprivileged populations have got involved in the project and have been trained to manage Eco-points. The Fondation SUEZ is providing its support for this project.
We also work with other partners in Mozambique’s recycling industry, including Pagalata, the national brewery CDM, Vulcano and Flexivel Plastica in Beira. These companies all purchase recyclable waste from our Eco-points.
Today, we have 11 community Eco-points in the capital city, Maputo, which has a population of over 1.1 million; and 5 in Beira, a port and the country’s third largest city with almost 650,000 inhabitants. These Eco-points are supported by the Fondation SUEZ. But other collection points have been set up independently. Indeed, since 2013 we have been working to encourage autonomy within the system, giving Eco-point managers more independence. For example, the microentreprise RLR – Recolha de Lixo Reciclavel (recyclable waste collection) – founded by a former AMOR employee, unites independent managers and provides a fleet of tricycles to collect recyclable waste from households and companies. We only ask for a record of the volume of waste they collect so that we can monitor the flow of recyclable waste.
What impact has this project had and what are your goals for the future?
A.B: The impact has been very positive. For us, the key indicator is the number of independent Eco-points. On a social level, we have created jobs and given people living in vulnerable situations new opportunities. We have also noticed that awareness about environmental responsibilities is increasing in the Mozambican society. Of the 500 tonnes of waste recycled every month in Mozambique, 60 tonnes pass through Eco-points.
Today, our role as a non-profit organisation is also to appeal for a legal framework to secure the economic activity of Eco-points and all those involved in the recycling sector.
The Fondation SUEZ supports concrete actions to sustainably develop access to essential services (water, sanitation and waste) for underprivileged populations in developing countries, in addition to supporting the integration of the most vulnerable populations in France through education and employment.