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

Agricultural activities do not only produce organic waste. Several thousand tons of plastic waste are also among the waste products from agriculture. And with the expansion of the agricultural sector in the last 20 years, the new techniques and ongoing installation of greenhouses, the production of plastic waste is at its peak. As a result, it is necessary to think about the future of this plastic waste, and giving it a second life. One man, Oussama Boutrigui, has focused on its future, and decided to inject some color into it.

From an aerial view, the agricultural landscapes of Morocco are no longer covered in green for which its lands are known. In the Souss-Massa region, further south of the snow-capped Atlas peaks, the color white is also creeping into the landscape. In this agricultural region, considered to be “Morocco’s vegetable garden”, miles and miles of greenhouses are cropping up, investments made in order to revive agricultural activity in Morocco, under the “Green Morocco” initiative. Whilst there were almost no greenhouses in the country 20 years ago, today they fill more than 3000 hectares (only in the Souss-Massa region).

This investment has led to a real growth in agriculture, which also includes social and economic development. More production, which is of a better quality, and improved technologies mean that agriculture is intensifying considerably in this region of southern Morocco, bringing with it new challenges and issues. Among these there is the arrival of plastic waste, generated by agricultural activities, because these many miles of greenhouses, made of plastic materials, nets and other non-biodegradable materials, are doomed to be discarded after use. Therefore, agriculture not only produces organic waste, but also plastic. Boutrigui’s motto is that you must know how to properly manage this kind of waste.

Boutrigui is an agricultural engineer and director of the IngeňusTech research office, which was set up to accompany the various public and private actors in implementing their investment and development projects.

Bent on for the reuse of plastic waste in his region, he launched a project called “Plastic 4 Life”, supported by the SwitchMed Programme. His research demonstrates the need to reuse plastic waste, since more than 23,000 tonnes of agricultural waste is produced each year in Morocco. He explains that this is due to the need of agricultural companies to replace their material and equipment every two or three years. So there are several tonnes of plastic material, films, pipes and nets that end up being useless, and a real burden when it comes to disposing of them.

SwitchMed is supporting him in his process to launch an eco-company, and is providing him with advice and coaching, putting him in contact with stakeholders and supporting the development of his green business plan. Together with the SwitchMed teams, he is analyzing the needs and the different impacts on the environment, society and the economy; and he is transforming his main idea into raw material and into launching a concrete business.

Waste plastics can enjoy a second life, is the objective of his “Plastic 4 Life” project. The idea is to recover and collect this plastic equipment and, through a transformation process, reintegrate it into the economy in a different form.

Boutrigui will therefore be supporting the change implemented in Morocco, because his business will create jobs in a local radius. He foresees that 8 jobs will be created directly within the company, and that the business will indirectly lead to the creation of about 20 jobs. This is a fundamental aspect of this young man’s project, who aims not only to reduce its impact on the environment, but also to reduce the rate of poverty in his region by creating jobs.

Plastic 4 Life does not have a negligible impact on the environment. outrigui estimates that recycling a tonne of plastic waste would reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 tonnes. His objective, by recycling 2300 tonnes of plastic waste a year, would therefore be to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 3,530 tonnes a year.

Of course, the process of transforming plastic waste is not without its environmental consequences. He calculates that, in order to compensate for the CO2 emissions produced by his business, he should plant 60 trees a year. An ecological green project that will have a strong economic and social impact on the region – this is the motivation that drives Boutrigui to look more closely at giving waste a second life.

 

 

This story was originally published on the SwitchMed website.

Plastic 4 Life Resource Efficincy & Sustainable Waste Management
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