A startup is on a mission to ensure that waste pickers are paid a fair wage for their work and treated with dignity and respect
Spotted: Mr Green Africa is a Kenyan-based tech-enabled plastics recycling company committed to operating in a fair and sustainable way. By directly purchasing from its sourcing agents or waste pickers, the company ensures that they are fairly compensated for their work.
The company’s approach is a reaction against the informal recycling sector in Kenya, which often fails to adequately compensate waste pickers. The exploitative nature of informal recycling stems from a lack of regulation, the actions of middlemen, and social stigma attached to the job of waste picker. And those impacted by exploitative practices are among the most marginalised in society: children, women, the unemployed, and rural migrants. This unfair and exploitative cycle forms an often invisible dark side to the circular economy.
How does Mr Green Africa tackle the problem? Trading hubs across Nairobi and Kisumuafter are key to the company’s recycling ecosystem. These hubs purchase plastics directly from waste pickers and process them in-house. The processed plastics are then sold to to manufacturers for use by large consumer goods companies.
By offering this service, Mr Green Africa will be able to provide more reliable pricing and income improvement for waste pickers. In 2020, Mr Green Africa recycled 1,600 metric tonnes of plastic waste, according to the Global Innovation Fund. The company also saves 4.8 million kilogrammes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, while improving the lives of 640 waste pickers.
Other recycling innovations recently spotted by Springwise include centralised and decentralised advanced recyling systems, and a water-based recycling system that creates local income streams from waste.
Written By: Katrina Lane