Value for Waste

Together with Norwegian Church Aid and the people of Shashemene in Ethiopia, we create value for waste Watch the video
Value for Waste

Plastic consumption in Ethiopia has increased dramatically since 2007

But initiatives to manage the waste have not. In the town of Shashemene, plastic pollution has become a major problem. To turn this around, we have initiated a project together with Norwegian Church Aid Ethiopia. The objectives are to reduce plastic and paper pollution while creating jobs and stimulating business development.
Below you can follow the latest updates from Shashemene and learn more about the project.

The project in short:

What we’re doing

Eight bikes with collection trays are available from different locations around Shashemene. They can be used by anyone to drop off waste for recycling. Each kg of waste is rewarded with payment equivalent of a bus ticket. By giving waste a value, we hope to clean up the town and create jobs.

Challenges and solutions

The main challenges are low community awareness and the lack of a system for proper waste collection and management. We need to raise awareness and bring people together through a shared cause, which we can do by setting up an improved waste management policy.
We will also identify the value chain for plastic and paper waste, as well as to engage people and organisations we need to make this happen.

Effects and reach

The project will directly result in engaging 200 young men and women in collecting, sorting and recycling plastic. An estimated minimum net income of the women working group of 20 young people that will be established by this project will amount to 6,800 NOK per month.


2022-05-03 Project Update

Our Bajaje’s are up and running.

A bajaje is an engine-powered tricycle that we have purchased for waste transportation. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to use them for a while, because of delays in acquiring number plates for them. But now the brand new number plates are fitted and our electric bajaje’s are already making plastic and paper waste transportation more efficient.

Since our latest update, the sales are increasing. The project has sold 141 bales of PET (5,630kg) for 64,745 Ethiopian Birr. This is a major development as it is a sign we’re achieving our goal: to create value for waste.

Important agreement signed.

We have also signed a market linkade agreement with Burayu Paper Recycling Company and companies in Shashemene. The agreement runs over three months and fetches a fair market price for the project’s waste at a maximum price of 11 Birr per kg and a minimum price of 9,5 Birr per kg.


We have foreseen issues with the low capacity of the project’s bajaje’s. We will look into this to assess what can be done. Due to various reasons, we haven’t been able to conduct our planned experience-sharing visits. Hopefully, we will be able to remedy this soon.

Around the corner.

We’re determined to keep increasing the amount of PET and paper collected. It’s also vital to increase sales of the collected waste material, and we’re working hard to achieve this. Lastly, it’s important to conduct the experience-sharing visits mentioned above. They serve to share knowledge, build trust and relations as well as raise awareness for the project and the overall challenge with plastic and paper pollution. And the solution, which is to collect and recycle as much as possible.

2022-03-03 Project Update

Since last month’s project meeting, we have seen both progress and met obstacles. The positives include that our work to raise awareness about paper collection systems is going well. We have conducted one-day training for 11 official heads, 11 office cleaners and 2 companies. The goal here is to increase paper collection.

We have completed the construction of a baling machine house as well as installed the required electric systems. The baling machine is key, as it compresses the waste material into bales, that facilitate handling and transportation. However, due to the over-stretching of baling machine personnel, baling machine training is falling behind. This has led to a delay in the selling of collected PET and paper waste for recycling.

Since our last post, an additional 5,327kg of PET bottles and 3,500kg paper has been collected.

There has also been progress in our dialogue with the Ethiopian Environment Protection Authority. We have reached an agreement to draft an action plan indicating:

  • The development of a national strategy for the plastic recycling industry
  • Standardization of bottle-to-bottle recycling
  • Roadmap and implementation guidelines for the plastic recycling industry

Going forward

Over the coming month, we have our aim set at conducting the required baling machine training and start to sell the collected PET bottles and paper. Increasing PET and paper collection is another goal, as well as the handing over of the electric tuk-tuk’s purchased for transportation of the collected waste.

To conduct baling machine operation training and start the selling the collected PET and paper for recycling companies. We’re also looking to conduct experience sharing between relevant companies.


It’s one of the biggest civic movements of our time and unites 180 countries across the world. The goal is a cleaner planet and this year World Clean-up Day united 11 million people in 166 countries.

In Shashemene, thousands of people came out to make the city cleaner. In a few hours, volunteers collected 8,900 kg of waste, out of which 1176 kg was PET bottles.

New milestones reached

In December the project stakeholders had a meeting to discuss how we’re progressing. On January 28 we had a follow-up and can conclude that major developments have been made.

Since our meeting in December 31,815 kg of plastic has been collected and sold on to small and medium enterprises. 55 individuals have found job opportunities through this initiative and are now actively collecting waste that can be sold. The Value for Waste project is gaining speed and we have also completed other activities. One was aimed at raising awareness of waste management and hygiene, another to provide materials, tools and equipment for businesses.

2022-10-14 Project Update

Sales are starting to take off

Much has happened in Shashemene since our last update. The project has reported sales amounting to a total of 550 477 Birr, divided over 24,417 kg PET bottles and 12,805 kg paper. To this day a total of 48,891 kg of PET bottles and 20,001 kg of paper have been collected. This is a lot of waste that no longer pollutes the town – instead it has become an asset that is sold on and creates jobs.

A steady income

Transportation costs have increased, which affect the margins for the project. However, the municipality has offered to support the project with transportation. We have also seen a drop in waste collecting, which we are looking into. It’s important for the project to keep collecting high as plastic and paper waste together with baling is what creates value. We’re also focusing on increasing the baling frequency because the sales depend on it. On that note we’re also working hard to increase sales in order to generate a stable income.

World clean-up day

In addition to the work with creating awareness for hygiene, trash-to-cash and clean-up events that we’re conducting, there was a big turnout for World clean-up day. The town community cleaned up in residential areas and students and different community groups took on cleaning up around selected waste disposal areas.


We’re looking into expanding the Value for Waste project into other countries. At this time, Sudan and Tanzania have been identified as suitable candidates. The NCA is looking into funding for this expansion as well as a substantial grant for all Value for Waste projects for the next two years. BEWI have volunteered to investigate contributing with advice and expertise on collection, handling and processing of the collected waste. The goal is that BEWI’s expertise can make these steps more efficient.