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Sierra Leone News:Bo recycling plant transforms plastic water sachets into pavestones

BCCBo’s recycling plant is an unassuming outdoor area far from the city center, surrounded by grass and farmland. It’s here that waste products like plastic water sachets, beer cans and plastic containers are given new life as recycled products. In 2015 the plant won a BBC Waste to Wealth competition.
Alfred Muana, manager of the recycling plant, showed Awoko newspaper some of the products the plant makes out of what would normally be discarded as trash. Muana has people gather the plastic sachets and cans from around the city and bring them to the plant, where they’re piled up before being melted.
Even the fuel used to melt the plastic and aluminium is friendly to the environment. Muana uses bio-charcoal made by slowly burning sawdust and other biodegradable waste materials in a furnace and carbonizing them. Muana said the charcoal solves two problems in one: it recycles biodegradable waste, and acts as an alternative to wood charcoal, which causes deforestation.
The result is a dense, round brick that can fuel fires used to melt plastic and metal.
Muana explained that the aluminium cans are melted in a large metal pot to liquid, then poured over dirt moulds made by making impressions of pots and other metal work into the ground. The resulting pots are a bright shiny silver.
To make the pavestones, some of which are used by the Bo Department of Waste Management, Muana first lights a fire in a large caldron to melt the plastic. He keeps the heat level low so as not to burn the plastic, and continues to add plastic sachet and other plastic waste materials until the caldron is partly filled with melted plastic. He then sprinkles sand into the mix, and shapes the mixture into pavestones using a metal mould.
The pavestones, many of which dry outside not far from the pile of plastic sachets used to make them, are hard and the color of black tar.
Muana is helped in his work by 17 boys he’s training in the practice of recycling. Four of them work on plastic recycling, three on scrap metals, five on bio-charcoal and five on recycling cans.
By Betty Milton & Chetanya Robinson
Wednesday September 07, 2016

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