19 Nov 2018
Cairo, Egypt
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

The Egyptian Ministry of Local Development has been recently touting its efforts to remove all garbage off the streets of Cairo. In theory, Egypt’s ambitious plan is to tackle an 80-million-ton yield of garbage, yet any progress is contingent on citizens’ willingness to be part of the plan. Heba Saeed and Ola Balbaa want to play an active part in upcycling and started doing so through their initiative, Wara’a.

Their mission is to produce recycled paper from domestic paper waste and rice straw. “The idea of Wara’a came from the fact that there’s a huge increase in paper consumption and the direct effect of that on trees and consequently the environment,” Balbaa says.

The pair initiated with spreading awareness of paper consumption and the value of reusing paper. Following extensive research, they came up with recycling paper into new paper where the new kind contains a smaller percentage of ordinary paper.

“The impact on the environment is very significant. On one hand, recycling of 1 ton of paper is equivalent to 15 trees. On the other, producing paper involves high water and energy usage, and most paper ends up in our landfills creating a staggering amount of paper waste,” Balbaa notes.

Balbaa and Saeed both hope to lead by example educating people to separate waste at home and recycle when possible. Their stakeholders include students, city councils and environmental affairs agencies. They’re already planning on implementing a paper recycling prototype in educational institutes to offer clean environment and decrease the gap of supplying paper domestically with the most cost-effective method.

Wara’a was part of The SwitchMed Incubation Program. “The Switchmed training gave us an insight on the business scope of the project, challenges within the market research, financial plan, and how to link the innovative idea to the market needs,” Balbaa says, adding that all of them were addressed, and a defined structure and process were introduced to them giving them a starting point to complete their study.

“The incubation period was detailed while talking to mentors and advisors opened up and triggered the gaps within four projects making us focus on closing them and progressing towards achieving Wara’a,” Balbaa adds.


Photos: Bas Emmen and Alfonso Navarro on Unsplash.

Wara'a Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Management
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