5 Things You Can Do About Plastic Waste

The world has a plastic problem like single-use plastic the kind of stuff you use once and throw away without a second thought. Is more popular than ever, plastic production has more than tripled since the 90s and half the plastic that ever existed was made after 2003.

You may be thinking who cares isn’t it all just recycled? You wish did you know in the US they recycle less than 10% of their plastic all that plastic has to go somewhere, to other countries as waste also they are thrown in a landfill or worst case scenario the ocean. Research shows that every year 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans, that’s like unloading a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.

Right now there are literal islands of plastic clogging up the ocean with the fog.

But here’s the good news no one is powerless here.

Here are 5  ways you can cut down on single-use plastic

  1. Ditch plastic bags

These might seem free but the environmental cost is massive, you could drive a mile with the amount of petroleum it takes to make it which is 14 plastic bags, so instead always keep one reusable bag in a purse or coat pocket incase you forget bringing one.

According to research reusable bag used in the UK saves around 300 plastic bags per person per year.

2. Say goodbye to bottled water

It takes 3 times more water to produce a plastic water bottle than it does to fill one so why pay for something. When you can have one reusable bottle that can save up to 150 plastic water bottles per person per year in the UK. And if you’re worried about contaminants use a filter instead.

3.Say no to plastic utensils

Many plastic utensils are too flimsy to recycle so they pile up fast case in point the average American uses 560 plastic straws per year that seems unnecessary so take a pass on plastic ware.

The next time you order takeout or stash some silverware in your desk at work just in case

4. Avoid microbeads

These tiny skincare additives slip through water treatment systems and into lakes and oceans where they’re gobbled up by fish a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.

That’s why places like the UK have started banning them entirely

5. Shop smart

Fill a reusable bag with cereal pasta and rice from bulk bins buy loose fruits and veggies and skip the bag if you have to buy something in a plastic container. Always go for the biggest size possible so you accumulate less plastic.

Have you learn something today?

Got any plastic pro plastic tips? Share yours in the comments


Plastic is a planetary crisis, each week a new study is released about how plastic has been found in a new species or habitat in the Ocean. Everywhere we look inside animals, at the bottom of the ocean, in our water and in our air we find plastic.

The main problem is that plastics are designed to last. Larger items do disappear over time, but largely because they are broken into smaller and smaller fragments eventually becoming microplastics less than 5mm in size. Since the discovery upto now, we have produced over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic, with very little of it recycled and most ending up in landfill or in the environment. Yet its global production continues to rise and by 2050, could be more than three times the levels of today. In Tanzania, over 315,000 tons of Plastics are improperly disposed a year, only 40% is being Collected and only 4% of this collected is being recycled while over 29,000 tons of Plastics are leaking into the Lakes, Rivers and into the Indian Ocean. Imagine!

Many marine species can become entangled in plastic debris or mistake it for food. Plastics also attract toxins and bind to other pollutants in the water, which can accumulate in increasing concentrations higher up the food chain.

At PREYO, we believe in three levels of change, Personal, Society and System level. Starting with Personal to family level and Society through Awareness and set of proper infrastructures while System Level through change of Policies.

We say, “Charity begins at Home”, well, we start with More Care and Less Plastic, for this round we aim to give FREE Waste bins to 5 Girl Schools, 6 Large Bins in 6 Local community Suburbs and 10 Compostable Biodegradable Garbage bags to each homes and Awareness to embrace the change, in the Coastal City of Dar es Salaam.


PREYO aim to change the normal of using “Mifuko ya Salfet” for home wastes and use proper bins where people can sort plastic from biowastes and dispose properly.

Plastic wastes collected from the Msimbazi river stream will be recycled into bricks for build Girls’ school toilets.


Dar es Salaam is both among the fastest growing and the dirtiest cities in the world, and it produces thousands of tonnes of waste every day. Informal waste pickers relieve the city of plastic trash and carry the leftovers of a booming city on their backs.
Juma Ahmed wakes up at five in the morning to collect trash. He leaves his home in Mbagala before sunrise and walks towards Dar es Salaam’s city centre as he picks up plastic bottles and nylon plastic on his way. He stuffs the plastic into the white polysack that he carries on his back. When it is filled (20 to 30 kg) with plastic he walks with it to an informal recycling station where he is paid according to how heavy it is.

He has just arrived at such a recycling station on the outskirts of Gongo la mboto. He hangs the bag full of plastic bottles on a hook and inspects the weight attached to it, 20 kilograms. That will give him 800 shillings – 100 shillings for every kilo of plastic bottles. Before he goes into to the streets again in the search for plastic, he seeks refuge from the midday sun under a parasol surrounded by large polysacks with plastic. They stand around him like walls in a house. The air in between the sacks is heavy with heat, and flies swarm around the plastic bottles and leave a sticky sensation on the skin.
“I am doing this job because I don’t have any other options. I wish that one day I’ll get a proper job, have a nice place to stay in and live a decent life,” Juma Ahmed says. He is 35-year-old and he has been living off collecting plastic for five years.
He walks long distances every day with the polysack on his back and reaches home around sunset. As he picks up plastic in the streets he is often met with harsh comments and told to leave the streets and the plastic in place.
“People chase me away and tell me that I should not collect the bottles. People see us as a disturbance. When that happens I just decide to leave and go somewhere else to collect bottles,” Juma Ahmed says.
Dar es Salaam has been rated among the dirtiest cities in the world several times. Forbes magazine ranked the city as the world’s 12th dirtiest in 2008. Currently, Dar es Salaam is experiencing a steady growth as new inhabitants arrive. A report published by the African Development Bank from 2014 finds Dar es Salaam the fastest growing city on the continent. Its population is expected to grow by more than 85 per cent, from around 3,3 million people in 2010 to 6,2 million in 2025.
Mr. Abdalah Nyambi, Founder of PLASTIC RECYCLING AND YOUTH EMPOWERMENT ORGANISATION (PREYO TZ) that recycles waste from companies, local communities and organisations in Dar es Salaam, finds that the city’s informal waste pickers constitutes a valuable resource to the city.
“They are the real heroes of Dar es Salaam,” he says. According to him the waste pickers are not only serving their own households with the money they make from selling waste, but also the general society.
“They are doing a massive service to Dar es Salaam and they are saving the municipalities a lot of money. By every kilogram of plastic bottles they divert from going to the landfill, they spare the municipalities for constructing more landfills,” Mr. Nyambi says.
The same point is made in a study from 2015 by the waste management consultant Joshua Palfreman based in South Africa. He has researched extensively on Dar es Salaam’s waste management. He finds that “the informal network of waste pickers and informal recycling transfer stations in Dar es Salaam is providing a commendable environmental and waste management to the city.” He concludes that there is a great potential for developing the work of the informal waste pickers.
Every day Dar es Salaam produces around 4,260 tonnes of waste and only 30 per cent is dumped in the city’s landfill in Pugu Kinyamwezi, according to the study by Mr Palfreman. He estimates that 70 per cent of the city’s waste ends in waterways, in fields, in the flames of a fire, or in Dar es Salaam’s informal waste collection.
Mr Palfreman estimates that there are 1,267 waste pickers in Dar es Salaam who collect waste and carry it to a transfer station where they sell it to a middle man. The middle man sells it onward to a company that recycles the plastic and exports it to the international market. At the informal recycling station in Gongo la mboto, Conrad Frank, who has been trading with waste for six years, says that most of the plastic is exported to industries in China and used in production of clothes, shoes and plastic slippers, while here in Tanzania there are recyclers like PREYO TZ that produce Construction materials like Paving blocks and Automobile rubber bushing from the recycled plastic wastes.
From the informal recycling station in Gongo la mboto the owner transports the collected plastic to a Chinese company, which then exports the recycled plastic to the Chinese market. The Chinese company pays 200 shillings for a kilo of plastic bottles and 400 shillings for nylon wrap plastic.
Among the plastic that is torn into bits and pieces for recycling, are the bottles that Juma Ahmed collects in the streets. On a regular day he walks several rounds in Gongo la mboto and the city centre, sells his collected plastic at recycling stations and walks out in the busy streets again. If he has a good day he can make 10,000 shillings, if he is less lucky he makes around 8,000.
“My wife works as a house help, so whatever we earn has to be enough. We have two children, one in primary school and one in nursery school. And if I don’t have enough for my family, my wife helps me,” he says.

Next to Juma Ahmed sits Mejali Adam, 40, on a stuffed polysack under the multi-coloured parasol. They would like to use gloves and boots to make their work safer, but their feet are bare in plastic slippers. they have just handed in ninenteen kilos of plastic bottles which they collected in the morning hours along the streets of the areas at Airport, Mombasa and Gongo la mboto. Juma takes the bus from his home in Buguruni at five o’clock in the morning to such parts of the city.
“Before collecting plastic I made a living from small businesses. I sold cigarettes and karanga (groundnuts) in the streets, but things didn’t go well,” he says.
He chose to collect plastic because he had nothing else to do, but the working conditions are tough and he does not feel appreciated. Often people suspect him of being a thief since some of the waste pickers are, he explains. He is met with a cold glance or told to stay away.
“I walk a long distance every day, the sun is very strong and people look down on us who pick waste. But it has to satisfy me, because I have no other way,” Mejali Adam says.

PREYO TZ has organized a special project to uplift the working conditions, values and perceptions towards the plastic waste pickers. A project known by PLASTGUTA will ensure proper transport of collected plastics; carriage tricycles (Guta), gloves, boots, caps and labeled clothes are given to wastes pickers. All this is to ensure proper human values, economy adjust and organized waste management with low health and social risks


In front of Pugu Hills lie the leftovers of Dar es Salaam. At first it looks like mountains of grey soil, but on closer sight it becomes clear that it is layer after layer of waste that has found its final destination – Pugu Kinyamwezi dumpsite.
Dar es Salaam produces around 4,260 tonnes of waste every day and 30 to 50 per cent of it arrives here by trucks that are operated by private companies under the city’s municipalities. Already outside the entrance to the dumpsite the air is full of flies. There is a smell that instils a sour sensation, like the taste of bottled water that has been left in the sun for too long. The trucks can be seen from far away as clouds of dust that closes in on the dumpsite and suddenly materialises as a lorry loaded with bags of waste. On top of the waste a couple of men grip tightly to the lorry’s metal frame as it makes a sharp turn to the left. The truck has to speed excessively in order to pass through the loose sand that covers the passage into the dumpsite. It reaches its final spot and unloads the waste onto the ground. It enters into chaos and sour, acid-like air.

Instantly the trash shifts hands. Here it enters into a whole new economy. On the many layers of waste people walk around in hectic activity to collect plastic bottles, wrap plastic, glass or any material that can be sold for profit. On one of the waste hills a couple of women sit in front of a small pile of charcoal which they have found among the waste. They pick the bigger pieces of charcoal and put them aside in a bag.
Mohamed is 45 years old and has been picking and selling waste for ten years. His green shirt is almost brown and the dust from the trash covers his face and gets into his eyes. He picks plastic bottles and soft plastic and sells it to a middleman at the dumpsite who then sells it onward to companies. For one kilo of plastic he earns Sh100. He does not do it out of choice, but because he does not know what else he should do.
“I come here every day. If I can’t come here, there will be no other thing I can do. I will have to sell karanga, juice or cigarettes in the street,” he says.
Behind him a woman rises up from the collection of charcoal and asks with frustration in her voice “Politics talk, but what is their answer to us?” she asks and continues to sort a bag halfway full of plastic and glass bottles.

Trash to rest
At the dumpsite all recycling are done by informal waste pickers as there are no official recycling activities. Dar es Salaam City Council manages the dump where around 100 to 150 trucks arrive with trash from the city every day. The manager of the dumpsite Richard Kishere estimates that the amounts of waste vary from 950 to 2,000 tonnes per day, and especially during the rainy season when the roads are slippery his team can find it difficult to handle the pressure of waste.
“On Tuesday last week two of the municipalities were delivering on the same day and the road was so busy. The people who push the waste around using excavators almost didn’t have time to eat their lunch,” he says.
He walks next to the hills of waste and watches as trucks pass over the sand to the hill where they offload their burdens to the waste pickers that are waiting. Their work is important to him.
“I need them very much because they are the people who are doing their work. There should be a better environment here for them to do their things,” Mr Richard says.
The waste that is not picked and packed by informal collectors will stay on the waste hills. Pugu dump is its final stop. The food waste and paper decompose within weeks; however, it will take from ten to 20 years before the plastic bags that make up a big part of the layers of trash are transformed into soil.

Human rights
On one of the heaps of waste a group of men and women sit and watch the dumping of trash from a distance. They take a break from their waste collection, and behind them huge polysacks stuffed with plastic bottles wait to be taken to companies in Dar es Salaam. Half a kilometre further away, across a green field, the shiny roofs of newly constructed houses appear. The houses look like they belong to a completely different world. Among the people is 22-year-old Hebron. He wears rubber boots, but his hands are bare and his t-shirt is coloured brown of dirt. He explains that he can sell Uhai plastic bottles to a price of Sh600 per kilo to a Chinese company that reuses the plastic, and emphasises that it has to be solely Uhai bottles and not the MoEXTRA bottles (of which PREYO TZ has found the solutions towards the use of this uncollected PET plastic wastes). But the treatment he gets is not worth the hours among waste. He explains that he does not feel treated as a human being.
“There are no human rights here,” he says and leaves his hands hanging in the air. “I work a lot and get very little money. I can’t even afford to eat chipsi,” Hebron says.
He wishes that they had at least a first aid kit here, when they spend hour after hour among poisonous waste that lies around in the open. A young woman next to him raises her voice and says that she feels mistreated by the Chinese companies as they set high demands to the plastic she brings them and pays her very little.
Beneath them the trucks with waste continue to slide through the sand into the current dumping ground. Because of the rainy season sand has been spread out to absorb the rainwater. Over the waste pickers and the entire dumpsite crows circle around on the lookout for food waste. They are waste pickers too.

Waste circles
Waste was on the national agenda last December when The Late President cancelled celebrations of Independence Day and called for a national street clean-up instead.
But at the dumpsite they haven’t seen remarkable changes.
The manager Richard explains that the biggest challenge is the lack of equipment. Since they lack excavators that can place the waste vertically, they have to use bulldozers that only spread it horizontally, and with the amounts of trash it creates a situation where they have to shift their place of dumping often. He would like to construct a proper landfill where trucks could simply load off the waste into a huge hole in the ground. But what about recycling then?
Mr Membe who is the Head of Department of Waste Management at Dar es Salaam City Council, thinks the handling of waste needs to go back to the communities and away from the dumpsite. He explains that they want to make people aware of the importance of recycling their trash. He acknowledges that the waste pickers play an important role, and that the municipalities should engage in the same kind of recycling.
“We can’t afford for the municipality to pick the waste, so we have to privatise it. We need more private sector collectors to pick the waste and recyclable materials,” he says.
Back at the dumpsite the trucks have formed a line and they wait for their turn to tip off their contents on the ground. Once they are done, the men, women and birds take over in the search for things of value, and the empty trucks return to the city through the afternoon traffic to collect more leftovers from the booming urban life.

PREYO TZ finds the dumpsite to be overweighed and massive project plans from the collection system to the disposing systems should be looked very closely, with introduction proper major projects like PLASMA GASIFICATION that does not affect the environment to reduce the already made disposals into valuable energy that would also solve the issue of electricity in rural and some urban areas, get fuels and other material products that are so valuable and can be found from trash.


The Plastics and Coastal Communities (PlastiCoco) project aims to produce a report on the status of marine plastic pollution in Tanzania and support a report covering this issue for the region of Eastern and Southern Africa.

The project, which started in 2018 and will end in 2021, also aims to produce several knowledge products, including a national report on Plastic Pollution Hotspotting and Shaping Action, and three circular economy case studies which will be shared as part of the marine category of the IUCN Panorama case study database. The knowledge products will be presented and distributed at relevant fora in February 2021 to national and regional stakeholders in Tanzania and Eastern and Southern Africa and will be used to help guide marine plastic pollution policy decision-making at local, national and regional levels. All with great support from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). 

The overall aim of PlastiCoCo is the generation of knowledge on plastic pollution (source, distribution, accumulation points and impacts) and identification of mitigation actions along the African Indian Ocean coast. Though PlastiCoCo was focused solely on Tanzania, the assessment here is complementary to another IUCN plastic pollution project, Marine Plastics and Coastal Communities (MARPLASTICCs) which is funded by Sweden (Sida) and has generated assessments in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa.