Protecting the environment by recycling paper and cardboard

6 avr. 2014

Recycling material, Copyright UNDP-DRC

The aim of the UNDP DRC's "Greening the Blue" program is to decrease carbon emissions and reduce environmental pollution, mainly through recycling the paper and cardboard used in their offices. Under this new initiative, UNDP staff are made aware of environmental issues, which enables them to have a hand in improving the city of Kinshasa. The following is our report from the city's recycling plant:

At the entrance of the All Packs recycling plant, men and women pushing carts filled to the brim rush to enter with bales of cardboard. Despite the hustle, everyone is received because the demand is so high.  "I just pick up recyclables and sell them to the factory. Sometimes I buy waste from others and sell it here," says Aissatou, a mother of five." It has become a means for me to support my family. It allows me participate in improving the city. The work sustains us, though at times picking up cardboard under the scorching sun is tough."

The United Nations Development Programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo is committed to the "Greening the Blue" program, which implements strategies to reduce the environmental impact of the activities of UN agencies. Under this program, steps have been taken to reduce Global Energy Services (GES) emissions from offices.

As part of this program, the UNDP DRC has equipped local offices with manual shredders. After the shredder renders paper documents unreadable, they are crushed. Additionally, recycling shredded paper works both to protect the environment and reduce pollution.

The UNDP's shredded waste is then packed into large bags and removed by the All Paks company, which is located in Kinshasa Kingabwa, on Breweries road in Limete. The factory specializes in paper and cardboard recycling. The plant has been managed by Nazim Karmali for over 3 years. "I travel to learn about ways to modernize the plant because we are working on a shoestring budget. We recycle paper and cardboard. Our raw material cannot be recycled indefinitely because the quality of the wood fiber decreases with each treatment. It cannot be reused more than 2-5 times" he says.

Who could have guessed that paper and cardboard could have so many lives? "Recycling garbage offers significant economic and social benefits thanks to the considerable energy savings, natural resource conservation and pollution. We are indirectly involved in contributing to city improvements in Kinshasa by recycling waste" says Karmali.

The Recycling Plant

The All Packs plant receives its raw material from local markets, such as dealers (who are mostly women), and other institutions such as UNDP, embassies, printing companies and administrations. 300 tons of paper are processed there per month, equivalent to 10 to 15 tons per day. A further 60 to 70 tons of raw materials are imported from South Africa and Europe per month. Ideally, all administrations, UN agencies, NGOs and other offices would be involved with recycling their paper and cardboard waste this way, rather than incineration, which is far too damaging to the environment. It is also possible to view the sorting and recycling process, which is important to administrations who wish to ensure their documents are completely and confidentially destroyed.

The bales brought into the plant by suppliers are weighed and stored, and preliminary sorting is done to remove unwanted objects, such as staples and plastic wire. The paper is then sorted into large tanks and kneaded to obtain a brown paste which must be drained, pressed and dried.  After drying, huge rolls of brown paper form the semi-finished product, which is then lastly processed into large cardboard boxes (double or triple corrugated) or shapes commonly known as egg trays on the Kinshasa market. All Paks produces 400,000 egg trays and pink toilet paper on a monthly basis.

Karmali asserts that he must import non-recycled paper, as supply on the local market isn't enough." We're experiencing difficulties because we do not get enough raw material due to a lack of engagement. This pushes us to import non-recycled papers," he says.

This is why it is important to increase the amount of paper and cardboard collected for recycling from all over the capital: to eliminate the need to import raw material.

We must raise awareness and emphasize the importance of protecting the environment. Our continued survival of humanity depends on protecting the environment. We are certainly not alone on this planet. We are completely dependent on the environment in which we live. When you live in a city, surrounded by technology, this fact is easy to forget. But a polluted environment quickly reminds us of this dependency.

To ensure the survival of humanity, it is of paramount importance to act to protect the environment today.
 

Carine Nkiadiasivi

PNUD Dans le monde

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