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 from the streets of Cairo. Egypt’s ambitious plan is to tackle 80-million tons of trash; but true success will rely on citizens being willing to pitch in. Heba Saeed and Ola Balbaa hope that their initiative, Wara’a , will spearhead a new public attitude to recycling.

Saeed and Balbaa’s mission is to produce recycled paper from domestic paper waste and rice straw. “The idea of Wara’a , (paper in Arabic), came from the fact that there’s a huge increase in paper consumption [which has a] direct effect on trees, and consequently the environment,” Balbaa said.

The pair started by spreading awareness of paper consumption and the value of reusing paper. Following extensive research, they came up with creating recycled paper that contains a smaller percentage of ordinary paper than typical versions.

“The impact on the environment is very significant. On the 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 landfill, creating a staggering amount of paper waste,” Balbaa notes.

Balbaa and Saeed want to show people how to separate waste at home and recycle when possible. Wara’a also plans to work with educational institutions to implement a paper recycling prototype, which would produce an eco-friendly and cost-effective supply of paper.

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 said.

“The incubation period was detailed,” she continued. “Talking to mentors and advisors showed us gaps in the project, which we closed, and allowed us to progress towards realizing Wara’a and diversifying our products.”

For example, the business idea has been expanding from only one product made from recycled paper to include more eco products which substitute single use and non degradable plastic products. “We provide paper cups, paper bags and tried to increase the revenue streams by selling multiple use bottles and boxes. But after the COVID 19 pandemic, we have experienced a high demand of paper cups, which is one of the green products that formulate the company’s profile” Saeed added.

Find their products on their FB page.

Photos: Bas Emmen and Alfonso Navarro on Unsplash.

Wara'a Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Management