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Afri-Plastics Challenge to tackle plastic pollution in sub-Saharan Africa

Constance Agyeman is the director of international development, Nesta Challenge. (Image source: Nesta Challenge)

Innovation foundation Nesta Challenges will award approximately US$2.38mn towards creative campaigns, schemes, tools and other interventions to promote widespread behaviour change toward plastic waste in sub-Saharan Africa in the third and final strand of the Afri-Plastics Challenge

Around 17 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Africa each year, with only 12% recycled. The rest is dumped, buried or burned with significant quantities entering the marine ecosystem. The Promoting Change strand of the Afri-Plastics Challenge follows the launch of the 'Accelerating Growth' strand in July seeking innovations to better manage plastic pollution and the Creating Solutions strand launched in October seeking innovation to reduce or eliminate plastic usage across sub-Saharan Africa.

The Afri-Plastics Challenge: Promoting Change strand is seeking innovative engagement strategies such as nudges, gamification, incentives, and storytelling that promote behaviour change in one or more of four focus areas such as reducing littering; separating plastic waste; choosing reusable options and refusing single-use plastic.

Across the focus areas, the challenge is seeking insights on the roles that women and girls play across the plastics management value chain in sub-Saharan African communities as well.

Constance Agyeman, director of international development, Nesta Challenges, said, “Plastic pollution is a terrible and ever-growing threat to the environment and health of sub-Saharan African communities. Sustainable consumer choices will make the difference between disaster and success in taking on the millions of tonnes of plastic being dumped, buried and burnt each year across the continent.” 

The Afri-Plastics Challenge is tackling the scourge of plastic pollution in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to funding from the government of Canada. The challenge comprises three strands to take on the problem on multiple fronts.

• Strand 1 – Accelerating Growth – launched in July 2021 – is rewarding innovative solutions to managing plastic waste after it has been used and discarded (i.e. downstream solutions).

• Strand 2 – Creating Solutions – launched in October 2021 – 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 – announced today – is seeking creative campaigns and projects to influence behaviour change among individuals and communities to promote sustainable consumption around plastic.

Applicants to the Afri-Plastic Challenge: Promoting Change strand must have a new or early-stage idea focussed on sub-Saharan Africa. Entries are welcomed from registered businesses, NGOs, community groups and individuals. Entrants from outside of sub-Saharan Africa must be in partnership with a sub-Sahara African lead applicant. The deadline for entries is Wednesday 16 February 2022 at 12 noon (GMT).

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