Multinational packaging company SIG Group has teamed up with the social enterprise Plastic Bank and development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to modernise Egypt’s recycling landscape.

According to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Egypt generates more than 95m tons of waste annually. Only 60% of this waste is currently collected, with less than 20% of that being properly disposed of or recycled.

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There is currently no formalised system for waste collection and recycling in the country.

SIG, GIZ Egypt and Plastic Bank to solve this through a three-year initiative that aims to collect 700 metric tons of beverage cartons and increase security for 1,000 local waste collection members via blockchain technology.

The PlasticBank app, backed by the social enterprise’s proprietary blockchain-secured platform, allows waste collectors to convert discarded material into a source of revenue.

Waste collection members will be able to log each collected product via the app to earn incentives deposited directly into their digital wallets and gain access to social benefits. These include health, work and life insurance, digital connectivity, grocery vouchers and school supplies.

Waste collection members will undergo training and receive personal safety equipment for their well-being at work.

By streamlining and tracking the collection and recycling of waste, including used beverage cartons, the project also attempts to lay the groundwork for an extended producer responsibility model in Egypt.

It aligns closely with the Egypt Waste Management Regulatory Authority to weave recycling into the legislative framework and underscores the important role of packaging manufacturers in environmental stewardship.

The project is supported by a German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) funding programme called “develoPPP” and its special initiative entitled “Decent Work for a Just Transition”.

SIG president and general manager for India, Middle East and Africa Abdelghany Eladib commented: “Extending social waste collection and recycling programmes like this one is a blueprint for future programmes. By establishing a recycling system for beverage cartons in the Greater Cairo area and beyond, SIG is focused on reducing the environmental impact and creating a market for recycled paper.”