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Waste management charity WasteAid ran its fifth annual Walk for WasteAid, this time through the city streets and canals of Manchester.

Zoë Lenkiewicz, Head of Programmes and Engagement at Walk for WasteAid 2019

On the 6th July, Walk for WasteAid 2019 took the form of a 25km sponsored walk through Manchester to raise money to fight the global plastic waste crisis. Fundraising to develop a plastics recycling training centre in the coastal city of Douala, Cameroon. WasteAid will use tried-and-tested low-tech solutions to fight poverty and plastic pollution.

The British charity WasteAid shares waste management and recycling skills in the world’s poorest places. It has been awarded UK Aid Match, meaning all donations made by the British public by 31st July will be matched by the UK government, up to £2 million.

WasteAid is raising funds to develop plastic recycling training centres in some of the poorest parts of the world. By teaching people how to turn waste into useful products like floor and roof tiles, the not-for-profit organisation is creating green jobs and preventing plastic waste from polluting the environment.

Plastic pollution is a major problem for most low-income countries, where very little waste is managed. UK-based charity WasteAid trains disadvantaged women, young people and people with disabilities to transform the waste into wealth, and pollution into economic opportunity.

WasteAid’s plastics specialist Pierre Kamsouloum, who came from a deprived background in Cameroon said: “This programme will build on my own personal experience of innovating to turn plastic bags into paving tiles. Recycling plastic has helped me out of poverty, and I am very happy to share these skills to help other young people.”

The coastal city of Douala in Cameroon has three times the population of Manchester, but with no bin men the streets and riverbeds become full of rubbish. Plastic accumulates and eventually gets washed into the Cameroon estuary (a global biodiversity hotspot) and out to sea.

Walk for WasteAid 2019

Zoë Lenkiewicz, Head of Programmes and Engagement at WasteAid said: “The sense of togetherness and resilience in Manchester made it the perfect choice for this year’s Walk for WasteAid. We are raising awareness about ending global plastic pollution by sharing skills with people around the world who live in poverty. In doing so, we are helping communities become self-sufficient and environmentally-friendly, which ultimately benefits us all.”

“We’re grateful to our sponsors, Biffa and Dsposal, and to Manchester City Council, the Science and Industry Museum, and the football clubs of Manchester United and Manchester City for their hospitality.”

Walk for WasteAid 2019

Launching the campaign with funding partner recycling and waste management company Biffa, WasteAid constructed a beach hut made from plastic waste on Hove beach to draw attention to the issue.

“We are a big supporter of WasteAid and the great work it is doing,” said Mark Hodkinson, General Manager Manchester at Biffa. “We are pleased to be taking part in the Walk for WasteAid, which will help to fund a more sustainable alternative for waste management in developing countries and create green jobs in the process.”

By capturing ocean-bound plastic and turning it into useful products, WasteAid is helping people to be empowered and support themselves in the long-term. Trainees will create green jobs, keep the environment healthy and prevent marine plastic pollution.

Biffa’s Manchester team has been instrumental in organising the route of the Walk for WasteAid, which started at Old Trafford, the Manchester United stadium, and ended 25km later at the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City.

Manchester-born Ray Georgeson, WasteAid trustee and lifelong United fan said: “Plastic pollution is causing long-term damage globally, destroying wildlife and harming some of the poorest communities in the world. This WasteAid project demonstrates that people can benefit from collecting and recycling plastic waste, creating sustainable jobs where they are most needed.”

Supporters have organised a variety of fundraising activities throughout the aid match period, including bake-offs and the Three Peaks Challenge.

Sophie Walker of Manchester clean-tech start-up Dsposal (leading the digital transformation of the waste industry) said: “We’ve been supporting the amazing work WasteAid does since we launched last year and we’re delighted to continue our support with Walk for WasteAid. Dsposal’s mission is a world where all waste is treated as a resource and whilst we focus our efforts in the UK, WasteAid focuses in the 80% of countries that don’t have any waste infrastructure.”

Team Dsposal at Walk for WasteAid 2019

Commenting on the success of this year’s Walk for WasteAid, Head of Programmes and Engagement, Zoë Lenkiewicz said: “Our annual Walk for WasteAid had double the impact this year thanks to UK Aid Match. All our sponsorship money will be doubled by UK government, so there’s never been a better time to make a donation! Supporters joined us from across the country on our 25km walk from Old Trafford to the Etihad Stadium. It was a fantastic day out and we raised almost £10,000 towards helping people in poorer parts of the world to prevent ocean plastic pollution.”

“Even though you might not have been able to join us on the day, it’s still not too late to get involved – any donations made before the end of July will be matched by the UK Government”

Additional info about the plastic waste crisis in Douala, Cameroon

  • Our UK Aid Match appeal is fundraising to develop a plastics recycling training centre in the coastal city of Douala in Cameroon.
  • We have a documentary from Douala in Cameroon showing rivers full of plastic waste (in French; the English translation is here). 
  • Photos from Douala, Cameroon, showing open dumping and burning of plastic waste and rivers of plastic.
  • The Department for International Development also made a video using our footage.
  • Interview on Sky Sunrise (1 May)
  • Powerful testimony of the problem of open burning.
Walk for WasteAid 2019

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