Glenn Fleet, of Warwickshire County Council, along with former CIWM President Derek Greedy, has regularly visited Sierra Leone and reported on its waste and resource developments. Here he updates us on the most recent pilot project to take place and what still needs to be done…
Why would a friendship link in Warwickshire with Bo City Council in Sierra Leone end up becoming one of the most envied waste disposal services across the country? The answer is that we have been able to use our specialist skills from our own county with our friends in Bo City Council. Every time Derek Greedy and myself visit the project we are eagerly approached by other councils across the country pleading for our help and saying how they would love to have the same service.
It all started with a study of the needs of Bo City Council back in 2007. This then developed into a pilot project funded by the United Nations that has now become a fully-blown internationally funded programme from our very own government. Bids are presently being sort from UK Aid over the coming years. Fingers crossed they get it.
The pilot showed that a skip type of collection service for this community was the right way forward to service their community, due to their very fragile infrastructure. There is no real room to have large lorries moving between households, so now Bo’s rubbish is collected in skips as well as keeping their cost to a minimum. Each skip is strategically placed around the city to accommodate as much as the population as possible. Each location has a minimum of two skips to enable both garden and food waste to be separated from the general waste after all the dry recyclables are removed. This is the principal of the operation, but in reality it does not work fully, as still more behavioural changes are needed to get users to separate the individual materials.
At the front end of the operation a youth organisation, Klin Bo Services, are contracted to gather waste door-to-door for a small fee or if the residents do not want to pay, they may take their own waste to the skips. The process of sorting the recyclables forms part of the youth organisations contract and they can then sell on the recyclables.
The council then take the skips to an official disposal site. This site is presently being developed to accommodate not just the disposal of the general waste, but process the green waste into compost. Some £300,000 will be spent on this part of the project, and includes the development of the road, new buildings, a machine to shred the green waste and a weighbridge. On top of this, two second-hand skip lorries have been purchased. These lorries are well built and should last for many years if looked after. Only a small proportion of the city is covered so far and there is much to do to expand the scheme and to make it sustainable in the long term but a major triumph is that it never stopped during the Ebola crisis and the Ebola outbreak is over, fingers crossed.
Recycling and re-use are important aspects of the project. Fifteen small local enterprises are now involved in recycling waste and turning it into a profit. They came up with a variety of ideas and were finally chosen for project support in open competitions. Their ideas range from composting waste to making handbags, pots, slippers and bio-charcoal, and even making dolls’ houses out of paper waste. A potentially large industry could come from manufacturing pavestones out of waste plastic.
The four-year project is managed by Bo City Council with WHH of Germany, and is funded by £3.2m of British aid, but we still have a long way to go. For more detail, including some excellent video, see the project Facebook page: Effective Solid Waste Management For Bo City