Afri-Plastics Challenge Reveals Wealth Of African Innovation

Press Release

Feb. 25, 2022, 12:02 p.m.

From clean cooking gas to school desks made with recycled plastics: finalists named in £1 million prizes to tackle plastic pollution in Africa

  • 15 finalists of the first Afri-Plastic Challenge strand - ‘Accelerating Growth’ have been named to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Innovations include house bricks made from waste plastic and reward schemes to help poor households earn a living from the circular economy.
  • Innovators in the running come from across sub-Saharan Africa, including Côte d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Togo.
  • The 15 solutions aim to tackle the rising tide of plastic pollution generated in sub-Saharan Africa by increasing the reuse and recycling of waste plastic.
  • In addition, 25 semi-finalists in the second Afri-Plastics Challenge strand - ‘Creating Solutions’ have been named, seeking to reduce volumes of plastic being generated before they become waste.

A project in Nigeria that turns plastic pollution into designer textiles and accessories, buy-back schemes to help women and young people earn money through recycling, and a project that turns plastic waste into school benches in Rwanda are finalists in the running to win £1 million in the first strand of the Afri-Plastics Challenge.

Other innovations in contention for the Accelerating Growth strand of the Afri-Plastics Challenge are:

  • Mega Gas Alternative Energy in Kenya which uses a thermal cracking process to convert plastic trash into clean cooking gas for people living on less than a dollar a day;
  • A scalable community recycling programme from Chaint Afrique Academy on the shores of Lake Volta in Ghana to prevent waste entering the marine ecosystem, and;
  • The Full Development Agency in the city of Bukavu, DR Congo, creating building materials from plastic waste to improve the urban environment.

Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development, Government of Canada said: “I look forward to seeing how each of the finalists’ projects develop and grow in the year ahead. As custodians of the longest coastline in the world, our responsibility to the health of the oceans does not stop at the edge of Canada’s waters. The global marine ecosystem is complex and deeply interconnected - plastic pollution in sub-Saharan Africa has global consequences once it enters lakes, rivers and the ocean.

The 15 inspiring finalists of the Afri-Plastics Challenge: Accelerating Growth strand are leading the way in successfully tackling the enormous quantities of plastic pollution being produced across Africa through ingenious and community-focused projects that have great potential to scale across the continent and beyond.”

Harjit Sajjan (Canadian Minister for International Development).jpg

Harjit Sajjan (Canadian Minister for International Development)

These finalists have been selected from 30 semi-finalist teams announced in November 2021. Each has already received grants of £10,000 to grow their ideas and demonstrate their scalability in advance of judging. The 15 finalists will now receive a further £100,000 each to advance their solutions to plastic waste management.

Three winners will be announced in March 2023 – the first place will be awarded £1 million, second place will be awarded £750,000 and third place will be awarded £500,000.


The Afri-Plastics Challenge is tackling the scourge of plastic pollution in sub-Saharan Africa on multiple fronts, with three active strands rewarding innovators:

  • Strand 1 – Accelerating Growth –15 finalists announced today - is rewarding innovative solutions to managing plastic waste after it has been used and discarded (i.e., downstream solutions).
  • Strand 2 – Creating Solutions – 25 semi-finalists announced today – is rewarding innovative solutions to reducing the volume of plastic in packaging and other products before it is used (i.e., upstream solutions).
  • Strand 3 – Promoting Change – launched in December 2021 – is seeking creative campaigns and projects to influencing behaviour change among individuals and communities to promote sustainable consumption around plastic.

In addition to the 15 finalists in the Accelerating Growth strand, the Afri-Plastics Challenge has selected the 25 semi-finalists in the Creating Solutions strand.

Each semi-finalist will be supported with a £25,000 grant and additional expert support to develop and validate their solutions. From these semi-finalists, 10 finalists will be selected in June 2022. Finally, in January 2023, three winners will be chosen, with first-place being awarded a further £750,000, second place awarded £250,000 and third place awarded £100,000.

Solutions through to the semi-finals of Strand 2 come from across sub-Saharan Africa, with many developing plants- and nature-based alternatives to plastics in everything from food packaging to construction materials. Several semi-finalists are developing sustainable and plastic-free sanitary products for women and others are working on safe drinking water alternatives that don’t rely on single-use plastic bottles.

Matthew Haden, Founder, The Recycler Tanzania and Afri-Plastics Challenge judge said: “The world needs to significantly reduce the quantities of plastic that are used in products and packaging if it is to hold back the tidal wave of plastic pollution that is wrecking environments on land and in water. Today’s semi-finalists are at the cutting-edge of innovation in sub-Saharan Africa, creating the home-grown solutions that empower communities to stem the growing problem of plastic waste, and delivering business solutions that have the export potential to cross borders and make a difference to people around the world.” 

To find out more about the 15 Accelerating Growth finalists and the 25 Creating Solutions semi-finalists and to follow their progress, visit

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The 15 finalists of the Afri-Plastics Challenge - ‘Accelerating Growth’ strand are:

  • A new life for plastic waste – recycling ocean-bound plastics in Kenya

TakaTaka Solutions (Kenya)

An end-to-end waste management company, with capabilities at every step of the value chain, from waste collection to the sale of recycled materials, allowing it to recycle 95% of the waste it collects.

To scale, it wants to expand the waste sourcing steps of the value chain (sorting facilities and buyback centres), especially in coastal areas – to allow it to reach full potential recycling volumes, empower more waste workers, and divert ocean-bound plastic from the environment.

  • AMBATANA PROJECT: Scaling up plastics value chains for good

Watamu Marine Association (Kenya)

Improved and validated end-of-life plastics waste disposal, including ‘Green Stations’ of free segregation-at-source bins; buy-back collection centres for plastics with fair prices, accurate weighing and direct pay; women’s groups offering micro-enterprise/SME opportunities; Public-Private Partnerships raising effectiveness and efficiency of waste management services; ‘Take-back Bins’ for brands to raise public awareness of their recycling commitment for their post-consumer waste products, and; Service Agreements providing cleaner estates, communities, institutions and businesses.

  • CareMe Bioplastics

CareMe Bioplastics (Rwanda)

CareMe Bioplastics uses a web and mobile app to decentralise plastic wastes collection and recycling. The collected plastics are processed into school benches, and other indoor and outdoor - turning the plastic waste into valuable items and reducing the need for deforestation. The digital platforms allow the end-users to sell their plastics effortlessly to earn money incentives or points that could earn them a piece of furniture that lasts for decades, in turn giving community members a sense of responsibility for their waste plastic.

  • Coastal Community Solar Kiosks for Plastic Collection and Emission Certificates
    Chaint Afrique Academy (Ghana)

Empowering livelihoods by creating access to recycled material in coastal and Lake Volta communities in Ghana to reduce marine plastic pollution by 30% by 2030. Through access to recycling facilities, incentives and education, and access to global markets. Key features include 50 new and permanent Community Touchpoints for collection of PETs and monofilament nylon nets; community fund and access to sustainable choices; access to 19,000 MTs of recycled material and strategic collaboration with Coliba Ghana; creating permanent and temporary jobs.

  • Collecte, tri et recyclage des déchets plastiques en matériaux de construction, tables bancs et objets plastiques au Togo

Green Industry Plast - Togo/GIP-TOGO (Togo)

Present at every point in the value chain of plastic waste management, from waste collection to sorting to recycling. Households earn a living through the waste collection on GIP-TOGO’s behalf with community agents charged with the collection of household wastes for disposal at dumpsites as well as waste bins available at various public places. GIP-TOGO then stores, sorts, shreds, washes, dries and bags granules or shredded plastics for storage as semi-finished products and the manufacturing of new plastic products and ecological pavements.

  • Construction Bricks from Recycled Plastics
    Nelplast Eco Ghana Limited (Ghana)

Recycles all types of waste plastics through a polymer-sand composition and extrusion process, into “Eco Bricks” for various road paving and construction works. The Eco Bricks are waterproof, heat resistant, more durable, reusable and 30% cheaper than existing concrete and cement alternatives.

  • End to End Process for plastics waste recycling in Northern Nigeria
    Chanja Datti Ltd (Nigeria)

Our aim is to turn plastic recyclable waste into currency by converting collected recyclable waste into commercially viable products. It sources plastic from various sources (pickers, hotels, eateries etc). It then sorts and bails the plastic (and will begin ‘flaking’ in 2022), before selling and transporting to manufacturers.

  • eTrash2Cash
    eTrash2Cash (eT2C) Company Nigeria (Nigeria

Trash Banks that support local communities to exchange their plastic trash for cash, which they use to better their lives, e.g., healthcare access. We recycle the plastic trash into reusable raw materials/products to prevent marine pollution.


Greenhill Recycling (Nigeria)

Leveraging technology to provide people living in indigent communities with the opportunity to capture value from their waste while promoting healthier living. Users earn ‘Green Points’ for every plastic waste deposited, which can be redeemed for cash, health insurance, school fees, utility bills, groceries or funds to start up a micro business. Recovered plastics are sorted, pre-processed and sold as raw materials to produce polyester fibre used in the textile industry, food-grade plastics, car parts and other useful products.

  • Planet 3R

Planet 3R (Nigeria)

Planet 3R is a social enterprise dedicated to converting textile and plastic wastes into eco-friendly products using the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to save our planet Earth by weaving them into innovative items. Planet 3R creates employment opportunities by empowering youths and women. It plans to improve the local economy through locally generated raw materials and export opportunities.

  • Plastic Waste to Clean Energy

Mega Gas Alternative Energy (Kenya)

Convert unsorted waste polythene/plastics that litter the environment into clean cooking gas through a thermal cracking process of distillation and compression that creates no emissions, residue, or pollution to the environment. It serves low-income families living in Rural and Peri-urban areas living on under US$1 a day.

    RECYPLAST (Côte d'Ivoire)

PLASTOCK is a mobile app for the environment. It offers an original model for the collection of plastic waste using Plastock Boxes, or plastic waste purchasing points, installed at participating homes. Plastock aims to encourage households to get into the habit of waste separation and to encourage the local community to get involved in the movement for the sustainable and environmentally friendly management of plastic waste. Plastock rewards households that have adopted waste separation by purchasing their plastic waste, which contributes to the reduction of poverty in poor neighbourhoods.

  • Projet stratégique de réduction des déchets plastiques de Bukavu par la création d’emplois et de revenus par des actions de collecte, de tri et de valorisation en pavés plastiques et carburant


Full Development Agency, or FDA, is a social enterprise created by young people with the objective to develop sustainable solutions and a circular economy for dealing with and eradicating the threats posed by urban waste, in particular plastic waste. Waste plastic is recycled into different kinds of products, including paving tiles used to beautify lawns, parking lots, sidewalks, gardens, etc. in the city of Bukavu, DR Congo.

  • Ramtsilo Plastic Bricks

RAMTSILO (South Africa)

Fighting youth and women unemployment through sustainable solutions by creating value from plastic waste. They produce plastic bricks that comprise 30% inert plastic, soil and proprietary additives to ensure effective fire resistance and high durability. The bricks have the same look and feel as conventional bricks, unlike other plastic brick solutions, which entails no additional costs or learning delays when used in construction.

  • Recycling Scheme for Women and Youth Empowerment (RESWAYE)

Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC) (Nigeria)

Buy-back program that empowers women and youths (above 16 years) through collection, aggregation and recycling of plastic waste. It is a solution that focuses on combating the menace of plastic pollution in the coastal areas of Lagos State with future plans to extend the solution to other coastal states in Nigeria. Its women-network recyclers on the coastline of West Africa,

empowers over 2,000 women to establish sustainable incomes and improved livelihood.

About Nesta Challenges

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We've spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we've applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts.

Within Nesta, Nesta Challenges, based in London, in the United Kingdom, exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to take action.

We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real and seed long term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta. We are challengers. We are innovators. We are game-changers.

About Government of Canada

As part of the commitment to reduce marine plastics globally, the Government of Canada has launched a project aimed at improved plastic management in sub-Saharan Africa; the Afri-Plastics Challenge aims to reduce marine plastics in Sub-Saharan African countries by developing and scaling innovative solutions to plastic mismanagement. The Afri-Plastics Challenge places particular emphasis on promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. While not limited by gender, the challenge encourages women and girls to participate by submitting their solutions.


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