Refugees turn plastic waste into useful stuff in desert camps

In the middle of the Sahara Desert, where some 90,000 displaced Sahrawi people have lived in refugee camps for four decades, dealing with waste is a problem. Especially plastic waste.

Several times a week, trucks haul waste from the camps to the open desert to burn rubbish. Landfill isn’t an option – it could contaminate the little water there is in the ground. So the wind blows away whatever waste doesn’t burn.

Or at least it used to. Now plastic waste is being recycled and turned into all kinds of useful objects, in a project that not only reduces waste but also lets refugees be part of a circular economy that offers them economic possibilities where these are rare.

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