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In Cameroon, the pollution of plastic waste no longer affects only the mainland, but also the banks of the Wouri River. An association, Matanda Écotour, has been working for two years to free the river from this waste which is then sent to one of the few recycling plants in the country.
Six million tons of waste are produced each year by Cameroon, including 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste. Very often non-biodegradable waste which pollutes the environment.
Today, this pollution no longer affects only the mainland, but also the banks of the Wouri River in Douala, one of the most polluted rivers in Africa after the Nile and the Niger.
In order to remedy the situation, the Matanda Écotour association, which means “friends of the mangrove”, has been committed for two years to rid the Wouri river of plastic waste. So far, more than 12,400 kg of plastic waste have been collected in this way.
“If we do nothing, the mangrove will disappear”
On the waters of the Wouri River, which irrigates the city of Douala, François, a young environmental activist, came to collect plastic waste. On these banks, they number in the tens of thousands. A growing threat to the biodiversity of this mangrove. As for all those who live thanks to the river.
“The quantity of fish is forced to decrease because of the plastic waste which floods the river which suffocates the mangroves”, explains François Dikoume, president of the association Matanda Écotour. “If we do nothing today, the mangroves will disappear, the fish will disappear and if these two elements disappear, the river dies.”
To try to avoid the disaster, he therefore made an appointment with his team a few kilometers further in this district of Douala.
Only 20% of this waste is recycled
Here, bottles, bags and other plastic waste ended up covering the ground. Faced with the emergency, François Dikoume’s association is carrying out preventive collection actions across the city. To prevent this land pollution from spilling into the bed of the Wouri River. “There is a close collaboration between the land and the river,” he says. “The amount of waste that the earth produces inevitably ends up in the river. If nothing is done in the neighborhoods, the plastic will continue to flow towards the river.”
In just five months, François and his team have managed to collect more than 12,000 kg of plastic waste. Waste which then takes the direction of one of the few recycling factories in Cameroon.
In this workshop, they are transformed into flakes to enter into the composition of other plastic products. In total, 3,000 tonnes of plastics are thus recycled by Roblain and its teams. An encouraging figure to contain pollution, according to the director of the plant.
“There’s no point in just collecting waste,” says Roblain, CEO of NAMé-Recycling. “There must also be a whole chain of value creation behind in order to be able to generate a product whose added value could compensate.”
Every year, 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste is produced in Cameron. A record in Central Africa. But for now, only 20% of this waste is recycled.