By Shubham Prakash, Plastiskul Secretariat
Virgin Plastic production is a driver of climate change leading to irreversible, compounding and planetary-scale exposure of our environment, ecosystems and organisms, including humans. Virgin plastic production has risen from two million tonnes per year in 1950 to 367 million today, projected to exceed one billion tonnes per year by 2050. The latest data point to massive plastic waste generation, with only a miniscule being recycled and mostly being mismanaged and ending up in landfills. The prevailing plastic waste generation is greater than technological innovations and resource efficiency improvements can manage, thus causing increasing pressure on the environment.
In the global plastic crisis, micro-entrepreneurs can emerge as a potential pathway in managing plastic waste by introducing brilliant innovative entrepreneurial ideas creating a favourable impact on the environment. Social entrepreneurs are equipped with diverse on ground experience in working with plastic waste materials with high-value technologies to create a value addition in the supply chain.
To act as a drive of change, Plastiskul, an international consortium of social innovators and green entrepreneurs spread across France, India, Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia are working on plastic decontamination to the relocation of the economy. Plastiskul aims to ignite a circular model of sustainability for plastic waste at ground level through a mobile micro-factory platform aimed at building micro-entrepreneurship, value addition, capacity building, localised customisation, and awareness within the community. Plastiskul has a big focus on educating and sensitising the youth against plastic pollution.
Plastiskul recognises the planetary limitation, acts locally while thinking globally, create economic resilience amongst people at the base of the pyramid and abates natural sink overload minimising pressure on environment. All these issues are addressed by Plastiskul through enhancement of circularity and functional economy.– Dr. Brahmanand Mohanty,
Regional Advisor for Asia, French Agency for Ecological Transition
On 12th August, 2022 Plastiskul launched its 1st micro-factory in Uganda as part of its meta-network of micro-factories. The 1 hour event was conducted in an hybrid mode involving keynote address, Plastiskul vision, details on Ugandan microfactories, on-ground inauguration, and live tour of the micro-factory. The audience from multiple countries attended the event to garner an international momentum for Plastiskul initiative.
The keynote address was given by Dr. Brahanand Mohanty, Regional Advisor for Asia, French Agency for Ecological Transition. His insights dwelled into the need for ecological footprints to measure the pace of resources consumption and generation, impact of current lifestyle on environment, key principles to be adopted for the pursuit of sustainable lifestyle, and transitioning to sustainability. He stressed on the need to create new business models like Plastiskul to create a systemic change and sustainable transition. According to Dr. Mohanty, Plastiskul recognises the planetary limitation, acts locally while thinking globally, creates economic resilience amongst people at the base of the pyramid and abates natural sink overload minimising pressure on the environment. All these issues are addressed by Plastiskul through enhancement of circularity and functional economy.
The Ugandan micro-factory was inaugurated by Mr. Ocan Michael Christophar, Environmental Officer, Gulu City Council, Uganda. Mr. Christophar believes that Plastiskul’s approach to reach out to school students is appreciable as The primary school students are the future and introducing them to the skill of honouring plastic waste is going to be a milestone.
Kanika Ahuja, President, Plastiskul presented the vision of Plastiskul during the event to act as a systemic change that is capable of transforming plastic waste management. It works as a collaborative, innovation led approach to the global problem of plastic pollution by delivering localised solutions.
Peter Okwoko, Co-Founder, Takataka Plastics provided the on-ground information about Plastiskul’s Uganda Micro-factory. He points out the core-essence of Plastiskul to engage in capacity building at ground level and take plastic recycling to school, enabling students to learn about plastic recycling and environmental conservation.
The live on ground tour of the micro-factory enabled the audience to sneak a peek into it. The tour covered the whole factory structure, the machinery involved, different types of products capable of being produced, and the impact potential it has. The on-ground event was successful in including 3 local primary schools to show them how to create value from waste, honouring it, and the impact this microf-acrtory will have on their school infrastructure and educational spaces.
An engaging discussion followed the live tour of the microfactory on the types of plastic waste capable of being upcycled in the micro-factories, the potential of micro-factory and its innovation in the ‘Global South’, scalability and replicability of Plastikul model, challenges being faced by social entrepreneurs working towards sustainability, collaborative potential of Plastiskul to create a positive impact, the flexible capital investment model of micro-factory, and the product diversity that micro-factory can develop.
The event ended with a small anecdote from Dr. Mohanty on displaying the need for localised innovation to eliminate external dependency and creating efficient resource use.
Plastiskul works towards sustainability and creating new markets, act as agents of change for inculcating sustainability, realise ideas for positive or neutral environmental impact, modify consumer behaviours, and provide impetus to sustainable development. The strategy of capacity building, training, and awareness creation becomes vital to achieve SDGs, their subsequent goals, and net-zero targets. Plastiskul aims to create a systemic change in plastic waste management towards a pathway of sustainability and green micro entrepreneurship through its approach of upcycling plastic waste and capacity building amongst budding innovators.
The micro-factories is an innovative intervention in plastic waste recycling and each unit can be customised to local needs and demand. The consortium has synergised their expertise and experience to build this micro-factory kit to dissipate knowledge and technologies in a decentralised approach by providing localised solutions for upcycling plastic waste.
The solution intends to fulfil the core integral values shared across the consortium of enabling social inclusivity, community ownership, a meta-network amongst the entrepreneur, and economic viability to ensure holistic sustainability for all stakeholders involved. With the intent of Plastiskul to target social innovators, design students, authorities, emerging segments of micro and small enterprises, and youth getting into the plastic recycling business because of its lucrative value both environmentally and economically. Plastiskul has potential to leverage the massive quantity of plastic waste deposited in landfills harming terrestrial ecosystems.