Making businesses from waste

Waste is becoming a very big problem across the world. Africa makes 70 million tonnes of waste every year. By 2050 this will be more than 160 million tonnes a year. The average person in Africa makes half a kilogram of waste every day. This is increasing because there is a fast growing population and more people have more money.

Waste is a problem because it is not always properly thrown away. When it is not thrown away properly it can cause disease and pollution. Most of the waste in Africa can be used to make new products. But only 10% of the waste is properly collected. The rest is in illegal dump sites or on the streets.


It is important that we use this waste. Some people in Africa are already starting to do this. They are beginning to make businesses that turn waste into new products. This is good for the environment. It can also help to clear up the streets and stop pollution.

Some of these businesses have been really successful. A few have been internationally recognised. The entrepreneurs have won awards for the impact they have made. Communities can be transformed by small things. Even one small change in a community can have big impacts.


Thato and Rhea Ngwane live in South Africa. At ages 21 and 22 they have started their own recycling company. They collect old plastic carrier bags and turn them into school bags. They sell these in the local community.

The bags have a solar panel on them too. The solar panels charge as the children walk to school. Then at night it provides light. This light can be used so that the children can study at night. This helps the children to see their work. Because they can see their work they can do homework. It also saves money because it saves on candles. This is a win win for the environment and people. The company has become globally acknowledged.

The bags are sold to local people at a discount. This is to help make them affordable in the places where they will make the most difference.


Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu grew up in a village in Ethiopia. She is the founder of SoleRebels. This company makes shoes from recycled materials. She collects old waste materials that other people would throw away. These include old car tyres, discarded clothes and handmade fabrics. Once she has collected the materials she turns them into shoes. These shoes are now sold in over 50 countries. It has grown into a large business that employs a lot of people. This means that it has created local jobs for the people and helped the community.


Lorna Rutto lives in Kenya and started the business EcoPost. Her business collects plastic waste from bins and landfill sites. She turns these into fence posts. They fence houses and forest reserves. They are used as an alternative to timber. Many people are using these new fence posts. They are very strong and are really successful.

The company has sold lots of fence posts. It has also saved over 250 acres of forests. This is because the trees would have been cut down to make wood. The wood would have been turned into fence posts. The business saves the environment from waste problems and stops trees from being cut down. It has also made a lot of money and created many jobs.


There are lots of ways to make money from waste. Businesses across Africa are starting to do this. They are turning old waste into new products. Women have been making old waste into new clothes and handbags.

Many people and businesses are willing to pay to get rid of their waste. Some local people have been making businesses out of collecting waste. This is a small and easy way to make money and clean up the area.

Composting is another way to make money. Compositing is when you let old vegetables and waste break down. This turns into a really good form of soil. You can package this soil and sell it on. It is really good for the environment because it is full of nutrients.

Waste is everywhere. All that it takes is one good idea and you can turn the waste into a business. Everybody has the ability to do this. Some people have been really successful in making a business from waste. But it doesn’t just have to be these people who make a difference. Anybody can do this.



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