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Establishing a sustainable and economically viable system for the mechanical recycling of polystyrene in Nigeria

Funded by BASF Starting Ventures, Project STAR has been developed in collaboration with local partners: the social enterprise Wecyclers, the NGO "MoiJeuTri" (operating in Togo and Côte d'Ivoire), an organization dedicated to environmental education for younger generations, and Recyplast, our industrial recycling expert responsible for the mechanical recycling of polystyrene.

 

The partnership with Wecyclers has been very groundbreaking – a first of its kind in Nigeria. What we do is take waste Polystyrene and put it towards useful products. With this, we can capture value from waste that is collected and transfer that value to people who need it most.
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Jean-Marc Ricca

Country Cluster Head, BASF West Africa

What the project is all about

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Polystyrene is a widely used material due to its lightweight and disposability. However, Polystyrene can take up to 500 years to biodegrade and is prone to fragmentation, potentially contributing to the dispersion of microplastics in the environment. 

To overcome this challenge, we have developed an innovative approach to eliminate air from the polystyrene, transforming it into denser blocks with a density of 960–1050 kg/m³. This allows for easier transportation at standard shipping costs, and enables export to established recyclers. By closing the loop, the polystyrene can be recycled and given new life.

Project Star Nigeria  addresses the environmental impact of Polystyrene, offering a viable and sustainable solution for the recycling of single-use polystyrene. The project tackles the density challenge by transforming the material into transportable blocks, reducing shipping costs and enabling export to recyclers. This innovative approach contributes to environmental preservation and the reduction of plastic waste in urban areas.

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For more than 5 years now, we have been deploying technical options to provide solutions for plastic waste that do not have valuable recycling value chains. Polystyrene which was believed to be non-recyclable now has a value tag to it. Leveraging Chemistry as an enabler, we want to measure our success from a total value to society perspective.
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Olawale Adebiyi

CEO, Wecyclers Corporation

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The success of the project extends beyond environmental benefits. It also creates a social impact through job creation in local communities, particularly for pickers and sorters. Additionally, the project provides a sustainable economic model and generates revenues from exports, contributing to the economic development of the regions involved.

More on the project to follow!