Tetra Pak sold roughly 1.625 billion packages in Egypt in 2011, of which only 20 percent were recycled. That’s a lot of untreated waste, but now the company has pledged $340,000 to boost the country’s recycling capacity. They want to make their business more sustainable.
The Swedish company teamed up with Egyptian shopping bag manufacturer Akef Pack-tec to build a new recycling factory by the fourth quarter of 2014, but first it is necessary to improve the country’s recycling culture, which is currently non-existent.
Whereas many westerners can drop their pile of recyclables in a blue bin on the street or at a recycling center, such facilities have yet to be developed in Egypt. So it makes little sense to construct a recycling center without also establishing a way for the recyclables to make them there in the first place.
Aware of this challenge, Tetra Pak and Akef have conceived a multi pronged approach to their recycling initiative.
Mohamed Ismail, Environment and Marketing Manager for Tetra Pak Egypt told Food Production Daily that they want to build a collection stream in such a way that is both profitable and attractive to waste collectors.
Waste management in Egypt has a storied history, and the government can take very little credit. Instead, the Zabaleen, a group of Coptic Christians hidden away in a crusty corner of Cairo, have taken it upon themselves to recycle a great deal of the city’s organic and solid waste.
Over the years, their operation has become increasingly more sophisticated, and many of the materials harvested from the process are recycled into crafts and other goods that generate revenue.
But this is an unofficial waste management project that is almost embarrassing for Egypt. Tetra Pak’s new program can help to elevate this and similar initiatives.
Tetra Pak and partners will provide the funds and tools to build a recycling center, but entrepreneurs working with NGOs will be required to take ownership as well with a cost share program and generate performance reports in order to make the system self-sustaining.
Tetra Pak Egypt Managing Director Anders Lindgren told Daily News Egypt that the Ministry of Environmental affairs is looking for partners to achieve [the ministry’s goals as regards the] recycling project.”
“Around 90% of the recycled used beverage cartons [UBCs] are Tetra Pak’s,” he added.
By 2016, the company plans to inject further funds such that a full 50 percent of the waste they generate can be recycled.
Currently, most of Egypt’s Tetra Pak supplies are produced in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.