A man packs bottles for sale in Blantyre, Malawi, on April 15, 2021. (Xinhua/Joseph Mizere)
With growing concerns of environmental pollution in cities, people living on the outskirts of Blantyre, Malawi's biggest commercial city, are working to conserve the environment by collecting plastic and glass bottles for sale.
BLANTYRE, Malawi, April 21 (Xinhua) -- With growing concerns of environmental pollution in cities, people living on the outskirts of Blantyre, Malawi's biggest commercial city are finding means to conserve the environment by collecting plastic and glass bottles for sale.
The bottle collection exercise is not being initiated by any environmental organization, rather, people in the city are motivated by the profits they make after selling the bottles in their communities and to beverage companies.
Photo taken on April 15, 2021 shows a river filled with trash in Blantyre, Malawi. (Xinhua/Joseph Mizere)
On a successful day, one person collects an average of 150 bottles. Samuel Chunga, aged 23, has been collecting and selling bottles for two years. In an interview with Xinhua, Chunga disclosed that he sells bottles to six big beverage companies. This enables him to make a sustainable living out of his work.
"In two years, my business has grown so huge, at first, I was just selling a handful of bottles to people in the market. But with time, I have been able to collect over 5,000 bottles a month from my fellow bottle collectors and I later resell the bottles to beverage companies in Blantyre and Lilongwe," he said.
A man arranges bottles at a market in Blantyre, Malawi, on April 16, 2021. (Xinhua/Joseph Mizere)
Selling used bottles is also a big business for Susan Njewa who sells bottles in Limbe market in Blantyre.
Unlike Samuel, Njewa sells her bottles to people who need bottles for domestic purposes such as filling the bottles with cooking oil or keeping homemade beverages.
"The business has been a success to me, I didn't need any capital to start this business. All I did was to risk it all and start walking around the street each morning to collect used bottles. Now the business has grown, I have workers who collect bottles for me," she said.
According to Matthews Malata, an environmental rights activist in Malawi, recycling is important and there is a need to promote it, however, recycling is not being done properly in Malawi because the waste management system is broken so much that everyone does the way they want it.
A woman works at a market where used bottles are sold in Blantyre, Malawi, on April 15, 2021. (Xinhua/Joseph Mizere)
"The fact that we have some people who are willing to pick up these used plastic and glass bottles from the rivers and re-use them for other purposes shows that there is a possibility that if we put incentives to recycling and waste management efforts we should be able to win as a country.
"The efforts by these people who collect bottles from the rivers and in the streets for recycling are commendable because they are highly contributing to the reduction of waste in our cities but a great concern is on the safety of using these bottles for home beverage purposes, I think there is a need for proper steps to be followed to clean these bottles," he said.
Malata emphasized there is a need for the youth in the country to come up with groups and ideas for managing waste. According to him, this can attract investors to come in and contribute to making waste management profitable in many ways. ■