It’s shredding time: The first steps of the recycling process of plastics

What happens to all the plastic waste that the workers of JMJV (Vikokotoni Environment Society) collect every morning? That’s what we were about to find out, when we jumped on the loading area of JMJV’s small pickup truck for today’s trip to a nearby plastic shredding plant.

As the JMJV collect a lot of plastic waste, they now start to think about having their own shredding machine so that they could process their plastic by themselves. To get more input and inspiration about what that could look like we went to see the shredding plant of Nassor Abdalla-Nassor together with Khamis and Abdalla from JMJV.

A few years ago Nassor and his friend started shredding plastic with a smaller machine. Step by step they were able to save more money. He bought a bigger machine and opened with this current plant one and a half years ago.

Women removing the bottle tops and labels

Today, as every morning at 8am, 37 women and men start their work at the plant not far from the city.

The process of shredding consists of several steps. After the newly arrived plastic is sorted and weighed, a group of women remove the bottle tops and labels of all plastic bottles. Both bottle tops and bottles are forwarded into the shredding machine. As the name suggests, this is the main component of the whole process.

The shredding machine. The main component of the whole process

The resulting shreds are then washed in a water bath and dried in another machine. Finally, they are ready to be packed in bags.

At 5pm the work is done. Every day they shred about 2500 kilograms of plastic from all over Zanzibar.

JMJV and other organisations sell the un-shredded plastic to Nassor for 100 TSH up to 300 TSH per kilogram. After processing it into tiny pieces of about 1 cm² they sell it for 600 TSH to 800. The granulated material is transported to Dar Es Salaam, where it is either sold to Tanzanian companies or exported to Japan, China, Germany and other countries. The shredded plastic can be recycled into Shirts, buckets and many other products.

Visiting this place was very impressive. We got a great input what it means to run a shredding area. Even the location a shredding machine is placed must be well chosen as it does make noise which should not affect the inhabitants.

On our initial impression (since arriving in August) Zanzibar didn’t seem to possess an integral waste management and the different districts seemed to be hardly interested in their garbage processing, but this shredding plant shows that this is not always true. Surely the waste is still a huge problem in Zanzibar, but Khamis founding JMJV and Nassor building up the shredding plant are two examples for dedicated Zanzibaris seeking to solve the problem. Their organisations provide the first steps of the processing chain so the many plastic items thrown away here can be reused instead of polluting the environment.

This shows the washing machine.
This is the founder Nassor Abdalla-Nassor