“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”- Lucretius
According to The Africa Waste Management Outlook 2018 report, Africa is currently recycling only 4% of its waste and a far cry from the African Union vision is that “African cities will be recycling at least 50 per cent of the waste they generate by 2023”.
Just how bad is the plastic and Solid waste pollution in Africa?
Here is what we know about municipal solid waste in Africa as broken down in The Africa Waste Management Outlook 2018 report:
- 125 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) was generated in Africa in 2012, which is expected to double by 2025. The growth in waste generation in Africa is expected to be so significant, that any decrease in waste generation in other regions globally will be overshadowed by Africa.
- Waste Collection services in most African countries are inadequate and the average MSW collection rate is only 55%.
- More than 90% of waste generated in Africa is disposed off at uncontrolled dumpsites and landfills, often with associated open burning. 19 of the world’s 50 biggest dumpsites are located in Africa, all in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- On average, 13% of MSW generated in Africa is plastic and 57% is organic waste, the bulk of which is currently dumped but which could provide significant socio-economic opportunities for countries.
- Recycling has emerged across Africa, driven more by poverty, unemployment and socioeconomic need than by public and private sector design. An estimated 70–80% of the MSW generated in Africa is recyclable, yet only 4% of MSW is currently recycled.
In Uganda, the old-time adage has been brought to actualization through a start-up known as YO-Waste. YO-Waste is a waste management company based in Uganda whose core mission is to eliminate waste.
The company provides waste and recycling solutions to businesses and the government by connecting local waste haulers and recycling businesses to customers in need of their services. This is done through a mobile application and website.
The application is available for download on play store while apple users are advised to contact them directly. The YO-Waste app is designed to allow individual households and small businesses to manage waste collection. The application allows waste pickers who own a truck to sign up as partner garbage collectors and access a variety of customers who require their services. From the application, one can request for regular collections, extra pickups, and rate collections as well as also view previous collections.
The motivation behind the founding of the company is the increase in African urbanization. According to Yo-Waste, Africa is urbanizing rapidly compared to any other part of the planet. The current approximately 1.1 billion inhabitants of Africa are expected to double by 2050. Rapid urbanization also brings about the problem of waste management with many African cities being unable to effectively manage waste collection of the ever-growing population. In a bid to effectively carry out waste management, YO-Waste introduced a technological aspect to the waste management system in Kampala, Uganda.
The idea of the company was inspired by one of the company’s co-founders, Martin Tumusiime who grew up upcountry in Homer district before moving to Kampala where he got to witness the pain of waste management for households and businesses in urban areas.
In 2018, Martin teamed up with 4 of his friends who also had a background in computer science, and they came up with a technology-based start-up whose aim was to provide a solution to the waste management industry. The co-founders of the company are Gideon Mpungu, Lubowa Enock, Namuli Brenda and Rogers Kibuule and in 2019, with the support from Makerere University’s College of Computing and Information Sciences, the concept was piloted in the Kisaasi area in Kampala. In 2020, a scale-up plan was implemented in a bid to promote the idea to every waste generator in the urban communities.
But How does the YO Waste App work?
YO-Waste offers 4 waste management solutions namely: the YO-Waste customer app, the YO-Waste hauler, YO-Waste plastic and recycling and YO-Waste for business.
With the YO-Waste customer app, one can request pickups and view real-time status updates of the request. In addition to this, one can make payments through the app, view invoices and payment history. In case of a missed pickup, one can seek support for the incident directly with the customer support team.
The hauler solution is used to provide tools and apps to waste haulers which aids them in providing services to customers who need to get rid of garbage through the YO-Waste partner. The YO-Waste partner is a membership-only program that is available to waste haulers who provide waste management and recycling services on behalf of YO-Waste LLC.
The YO-Waste network acts as the connection between the haulers and potential customers. This especially exposes independent businesses to bid on new opportunities that would be otherwise almost impossible to access. When necessary, YO-Waste also pays out contract termination fees for small waste management businesses.
YO-Waste encourages recycling of plastic since it takes up to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose. With YO-Waste plastic recycling, they first sort through the plastic, clean the plastic and remove various sorts of impurities such as labels and dust and finally melt down the plastic into pellets from which new plastics can be made. This recycling procedure is done at a recycling plant and has a positive impact on the environment. The different types of plastic recycled by the company include PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic, HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) plastic, PP (Polypropylene) plastic and polythene.
YO-Waste offers waste management solutions to businesses in 4 different types of business sectors namely: grocery stores, hotels and hospitality, restaurants & food services as well national businesses that operate in multiple locations or regions. The company aids these businesses in waste management by building customised waste collection, recycling, and sustainability plans for the business. They also provide waste bins and dumpsters.
YO-Waste is on a path to change one of the most traditional industries on the continent as the waste management industry has been historically associated with irregularities, inefficiency, and poor customer service.
However, according to YO-Waste, this is all about to change as the company plans to disrupt the waste management industry across Africa. The start-up is at the fore front of environment conservation and sustainable living in Uganda.
Content writer at Cue Africa. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org LinkedIn: Selina Liyengwa.