23 May 2018
Souss-Massa, Morocco
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

Oussama Boutrigui understands a crucial reality about agriculture: the industry does not only produce organic waste. A trend of building greenhouses has recently exploded under the country’s “Green Morocco” plan for agricultural development. There were barely any greenhouses in Morocco twenty years ago; these days, greenhouses occupy more than 3,000 hectares in the Sousse-Massa region, known fondly as “Morocco’s vegetable garden.” Unfortunately, plastic materials often lie abandoned after a greenhouse has passed its “use-by” date, leading to mountains of plastic waste dotted about the once-pristine green hills. Boutrigui’s initiative, Plastic 4 Life, aims to recycle the discarded plastic, seizing value from the obsolete materials.

Boutrigui, an agricultural engineer and director of the Inge┼łusTech research office, has shown great interest in the impact of plastic waste from the farming sector. His research indicates that Morocco produces more than 23,000 tonnes of agricultural waste is produced each year – a great share of which is plastic. Boutrigui traces this somewhat surprising revelation to the need for agricultural companies to replace material and equipment every two or three years. With greenhouses, this means that plenty of plastic material, films, pipes and nets end up being useless, and a considerable burden in terms of disposal.

Bent on for the reuse of plastic waste in his region, Boutrigui launched a project called “Plastic 4 Life”, supported by the SwitchMed Programme. The idea is to gather the discarded plastic equipment and, through recycling, reintegrate the waste into the economy in a different form.

SwitchMed is supporting Boutrigui in in launching his company by providing technical advice, putting him in contact with stakeholders, and helping to develop his green business plan. Together with the SwitchMed teams, Boutrigui is analyzing the needs and the different impacts of his business on the environment, society and the economy. Hopefully, this process will transform his embryonic idea into a concrete business proposal.

Boutrigui hopes that the final business model will bring social, as well as environmental, improvements to the Sousse-Massa region. He predicts that the company will directly create at least eight jobs, and indirectly create another 20 or so. Boutrigui considers these impacts important, given the need to reduce the area’s poverty rates.

On the other hand, Boutrigui remains conscious of more negative impacts. Plastic 4 Life will cause some environmental harm; the process of transforming plastic waste does create its own set of carbon emissions. Boutrigui calculates that, in order to compensate for the business’ impact, he will need to plant 60 trees a year. This seems a small price to pay of Boutrigui can fulfill his dream of breathing new life into Sousse-Massa’s mounting plastic problem, and creating vital jobs in the process.

 

This story was originally published on the SwitchMed website.

Plastic 4 Life Resource Efficincy & Sustainable Waste Management
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