Leadership commentary

Annabelle Degroot, Managing Director, Zambian Breweries Plc

Like many cities around the world, Lusaka’s waste infrastructure has struggled to keep pace with a growing population.

This has meant a lot of litter remains uncollected or in drains, which when blocked can become a source of cholera and typhoid during the rainy season.

Around 200,000 tonnes of product packaging contribute to the problem each year, and we estimate that Zambian Breweries accounts for 3.5% of this. We sell around 40% of our products in returnable bottles or kegs, but the rest are sold in one-way packaging such as disposable cartons or plastic bottles, which are often hard to collect and recycle.

In response in 2015, we launched Manja Pamodzi (Hands Together) in partnership with the Lusaka city council. As a community-driven project, it is helping to clean up waste in eight districts by supporting small-scale waste collectors, around three-quarters of whom are women. These collectors gather cartons, plastic bottles, and other recyclable materials in their communities, and sell them to aggregators, who process the waste into bundles to sell on to recycling companies.

Since the project began, 146 collectors and three aggregators have registered, and collected 147 tonnes of cartons and plastic bottles in total. This is resulting in cleaner, healthier and more attractive communities, while providing incomes for women and small enterprises and boosting the local economy.

Annabelle Degroot

Managing Director, Zambian Breweries Plc