Introducing Kolekt: How Africa RISE and AMOR are digitising the waste supply chain in Mozambique
Waste management is a major global challenge, attributable to exponential growth and the huge variety of solid waste materials. However, in developing countries the problem becomes even more acute due to a lack of recycling infrastructure and underfunded municipal waste collection companies. In Mozambique in particular, less than 2% of solid waste is recycled or composted.
AMOR, an NGO and Mozambique’s leading recycling advocate, approached EU Africa RISE in late 2022 to request support to pilot the digital waste app Kolekt in Mozambique. A team of experts were subcontracted by Africa RISE to implement the initiative. The app will be piloted with different target groups including businesses, waste pickers and recyclers. The project kicked off in March 2023 in Mozambique, followed by Angola in April. It is expected that both pilots will be completed by early July. The plan after the pilot is to then share the learnings in other countries in the Southern African (SADC) region.
Currently, municipal waste collection in Mozambique focuses on mixed solid waste. Usually picked up by garbage trucks, and then any valuable (recyclable) materials are pressed together with leftover food and organic waste. This garbage-truck approach renders the recyclable materials useless for recycling due to contamination. This municipal solid waste is then sent to the city landfill site, or it is incinerated. The only real effort to collect sorted, valuable and recyclable materials is done by informal waste pickers, known as ‘Catadores’ in Portuguese. They are the circular economy professionals of developing nations. There are roughly 4 waste pickers for every 1,000 citizens. Therefore, there are around 130,000 waste pickers in Mozambique, with most earning less than minimum wage. They scrape by looking for high value recyclable materials such as aluminium cans, PET bottles, HDPE plastics, metals, returnable bottles, etc. They are the only people committed to supporting the recycling industry. They need more income and support, and this is where AMOR steps in.
AMOR, the recycling association of Mozambique, has over the last 10 years tirelessly placed collection points (eco-points) for recyclables across major cities in Mozambique; has trained waste pickers; has set up sorting stations; has organised sale to recyclers or for export; and it now wants a digital app like Kolekt to match up demand and supply for recyclable materials. AMOR’s Founder Stephane Temperman says “I am so convinced by an app like Kolekt for the circular economy, that I have hired a team of 5 staff to roll out the app.” So how can a waste management app like Kolekt help the recovery of recyclable materials?
The next steps of the pilot:
· Launch a pilot with churches in Beira, Mozambique (by end of May);
· A workshop session in Luanda, Angola with several waste sector stakeholders to discuss the applicability of a digital waste solution in Luanda (early June);
· Redesign of the Kolekt monitoring dashboard (early June).
Africa RISE will conduct an impact assessment of the pilot in June-July. Learning from the pilot will help AMOR scale-up of the business models so that stakeholders, including waste pickers, can ultimately benefit.
A similar pilot is currently under preparation in Angola, with over 50 waste pickers to be involved from June. Other 20+ market players and potential users will be sensitised and trained on the use of the app and shown the benefits from use.