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Senegalese recyclers see more than waste in a smoldering landfill

Baye Dame Ndiaye deftly sifts through heaps of stinging rubbish discarded at the landfill where he grew up outside the Senegalese capital Dakar, setting aside plastic for recycling companies and pieces of cardboard to feed his sheep .

A general view of a garbage dump site in Mbeubeuss on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. Source: Reuters/Christophe van der Perre


Hundreds of informal recyclers gather each day as the sun rises over the mountains of waste at Mbeubeuss, Dakar’s main landfill and one of West Africa’s largest, living on scrap iron, d aluminum and plastic.

The trade has continued to thrive despite the 2020 ban on single-use plastic and government efforts to formalize waste collection.

“Never in my life would I have thought I would come to work here…but I love it,” said Ndiaye, 32, who has worked odd jobs since leaving high school.

Ndiaye is part of a team of 120 people who collect around three tonnes of plastic a day. It is cut into small pieces, washed and sold to a middleman for 25 CFA francs per kilogram. Companies buy this plastic between 50 and 75 CFA francs per kilogram and then resell it to plastic producers in Dakar such as SIMPA.

A recycled plastic bucket comes out of the mold after cooling at the Simpa factory in Dakar, Senegal. Source: Reuters/Ngouda Dione

A recycled plastic bucket comes out of the mold after cooling at the Simpa factory in Dakar, Senegal. Source: Reuters/Ngouda Dione

Best Selling Recycled Products

“Recycled materials are more affordable than virgin materials,” said SIMPA deputy director Khalil Hawili, noting that recycled products were top sellers.

In Mbeubeuss, cows scavenge nonchalantly between recyclers, oblivious to the toxic fumes emanating from the burning piles of rubbish that have earned this section of the landfill the nickname “Yemen” in reference to images of war.

Ndiaye’s mother, Binta Diouf, a dried fish seller, said she would have preferred to see her son finish school and leave the dump next to which the family settled after floods damaged their home in 2001.

“Since we moved here, we’ve noticed more respiratory illnesses,” she told Reuters, recalling her initial struggle with smoke and smells.

But in seven years of working in Mbeubeuss, Ndiaye has become a breadwinner and has saved enough money to raise sheep on the roof of his house.

He bulks up their feed with cardboard from the landfill, where cattle ranchers also find food scraps for their animals.

“Being next to the landfill is an advantage,” said Ndiaye. “Others just see trash…but it’s more than that.”

Senegalese recyclers see more than waste in a smoldering landfill

Source link Senegalese recyclers see more than waste in a smoldering landfill

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