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Hear from Recnowa
In the crowded city of Kumasi, Ghana, garbage is a major problem. The government sanitation systems
do not reach the slums. But the young people of the Recycle Not a
Waste Initiative (Recnowa) are turning the waste into a low-carbon business opportunity. The
social enterprise employs local artisans and street youth in poor urban communities to take
recyclable waste out of landfills and off the streets, reducing emissions at the same time.
- 80–100 tonnes of plastic are processed each month;
- 5 million kg of CO2 emissions reduced;
- 30 direct jobs and 100 indirect jobs created.
Listen to an interview with Recnowa's Kwaku Kyei of Recnowa.
Urban poverty is a significant problem in Ghana. Another problem is the thousands of plastic bags
and bottles that litter the streets and clog the sewers.
The Recnowa Initiative believes that the most important step to ending poverty is to create
employment and income opportunities. The initiative does that by engaging and providing
opportunities for street youth and other urban poor artisans from slum communities to take
recyclable waste out of landfills and off the streets.
By up‐cycling waste materials, the initiative reduce the quantities of waste reaching the
landfills and dump yards in the city of Kumasi. Dumping waste in dump yards poisons the land, the
water bodies connected to it, and the environment around it.
The Recnowa activity uses plastics and other material waste to produce high quality fashion-driven goods for
both the local and international fair trade markets while improving the quality of life of the urban poor in
Ten plastic waste mobilization centers, which process between 80 to 100 tonnes of plastic each month, are
managed by groups of trained street youth. The plastic collectors earn money for every 50 kg of plastic they
remove from the streets, markets and plastic waste bins. By converting waste materials into eco-friendly
goods, the initiative has already cut carbon emissions by more than five million kilograms – proving
that no effort is too small when it comes to addressing climate change. The Recnowa Initiative has also
created 30 direct jobs and 100 indirect jobs (plastic waste collectors, sorters and transporters), with
workers earning a higher wage than most other Ghanaians in similar industries.
This initiative has not only helped to improve the living environment but has also contributed to the welfare
of the residents through income raised from the trash as well as the reduction of the incidences of
waterborne disease such as typhoid, cholera malaria and dysentery. Waste upcycling had a positive impact on
environmental conservation efforts by involving the community in the disposal and the management of the
municipal waste, income ‐generation and plastic waste recycling as micro‐enterprise.
Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.
The Recnowa activity is highly replicable as it requires limited investment, low-cost technologies
and easily transferable skills. It follows a franchise model and there are plans to expand across
communities in Ghana and Africa with similar conditions.
The project can be easily replicated in communities with challenges in managing their plastic waste.
This is because the raw materials (plastic waste) used for the production of low-carbon goods can be
found with little or no cost.
The technology for making the products can be acquired through demonstration training by people with
little or no education. Small communities taking action on climate change around the world can make a