Algeria | Fighting Packaging Waste with Intelligence

Feb 28, 2021 | All Working Groups, ISWA news

Algeria has a waste problem. In 2018 Algeria produced 13 million tons of domestic waste, very little of which was disposed of properly, let alone recycled. The struggle already starts at collection, due to the lack of sorting bins. In 2004 the national waste agency l???Agence Nationale de Gestion des déchets (AND) introduced Eco-Jem, an EPR scheme in the form of a tax imposed on containers to incentivise manufacturers to pay for a system of waste collection and recovery. However, Eco-Jem has yet to be implemented due to a lack of clarity regarding where the financial burden lays, with the producer or the seller.

In the hopes of tackling this difficult problem, one Algerian company has created what they hope will fill in the gap until Eco-Jem can be enacted.
Merzouk Abdelwafi is the CEO of SARL Toptek, an Algerian company that is fighting this difficult waste collection problem with their iCollect initiative, which aims to educate the public and create easily accessible recycling containers.

We sat down with Mr. Abdelwafi to discuss the current state of Algerian waste management, what iCollect wishes to achieve and how does it expect to do it. He explained that as of 2015, 27.72% of all domestic waste is plastic, 59% of that plastic is represented by packaging, and of the 350 000 tons of PET imported into Algeria only 5% is recycled.

SARL Toptek wants to take on at least 19% of current domestic waste including glass, plastic, and cardboard by placing intelligent recycling units, or what they call UNO machines, at key points throughout cities such as sidewalks, shopping centres and even at the beach. The collected waste is smartly sorted before transportation. The intelligence aspect comes in the form of an app, which anyone can download and receive vouchers and points for using the machines to recycle their packaging (e.g. cardboard, glass bottles, plastics etc). It also enables consumers to learn more about recycling, their waste habits, as well as how their recycling contributes to the planet.

Mr Abdelwafi truly believes that the key to eliminating uncollected packaging waste is putting a price on it: if you add a little extra to the cost of packaging it will incentivise citizens to recycle. He hopes that, having also sold machines abroad, we can inspire each other and move towards a world with intelligent waste collection.

Click here to learn more about iCollect.

A special thanks to Merzouk Abdelwafi for talking with us and to Chloé Schwizgebel for conducting and translating the interview.

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