Government to match donations to WasteAid appeal

Until 31 July, the UK Government will be matching public donations up to £2 million to help communities in low-income countries manage their waste.

The Widening the Net appeal was launched yesterday (1 May) by WasteAid, a charity working with communities in some of the poorest parts of the world, where waste management infrastructure is often inadequate, informal or non-existent.

Money raised during the appeal will go towards setting up training centres where people can learn how to give waste materials a useful second life, creating sustainable jobs as well as dealing with the issue of waste with nowhere to go but the natural environment.

An image of paving tiles made from waste plastics by trainees in Cameroon
WasteAid's paving tiles made from converted plastic waste
The Widening the Net programme will first fund a training centre in Douala, Cameroon, to teach people how to turn waste plastic bags into paving tiles. Pierre Kamsouloum, WasteAid’s plastics specialist, helped to pioneer this process in Cameroon and explained that the programme will be building on his own experience and knowledge. “Recycling plastic has helped me out of poverty, and I am very happy to share these skills to help other young people,” he said.

Zoë Lenkiewicz, Head of Programmes and Engagement at WasteAid, added: “By capturing ocean-bound plastic and turning it into useful products, people will be empowered to support themselves in the long-term. Trainees will create green jobs, keep the environment healthy and prevent marine plastic pollution.”

Read more: WasteAid UK – Helping communities tackle the waste crisis in West Africa

A 2018 report by WasteAid and the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) revealed that two thirds of households in lower income countries have no access to waste collection services. This presents health risks as well as being devastating to the environment, with waste often ending up in dangerous and toxic landfills. Moreover, more than 90 per cent of ocean plastics are thought to come from land-based sources, where waste is improperly managed.

Widening the Net is a UK Aid Match appeal, which means that for every pound donated by the public, the government will also donate a pound, to a maximum of £2 million.

Image of a wall made of waste plastic eco bricks like the ones WasteAid trains communities to make
The walls of the Brighton beach hut, made from waste plastic eco bricks
The appeal was officially launched in Brighton with the opening of a beach hut made from plastic ‘eco bricks’ – used plastic bottles tightly packed with other waste plastics, which can be used as a durable building material. Along with paving tiles, WasteAid trains communities in how to make and use eco bricks.

Waste management company Biffa, which announced a three-year partnership with WasteAid in April this year, is supporting the appeal and was on site at the launch in Brighton. Michael Topham, Chief Executive at Biffa, commented: “Plastic is a global convenience and an environmental inconvenience, creating mammoth amounts of waste every day. This year, an estimated half a trillion plastic bottles alone will be bought by consumers.

“The message on each of those bottles ought to be that the world faces a global plastic crisis. Reuse and recycling, in developed and developing countries, must be a big part of the answer.”

You can donate to the Widening the Net appeal via the WasteAid website – all donations before 31 July will be matched by the government. The charity is also encouraging sign-ups to its Walk for WasteAid in Manchester on 6 July – last year’s event raised more than £10,000.

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