International Zero Waste Month 2024 in Chumbuni, Zanzibar

Zanzibar, an archipelago just off the mainland Tanzanian coast, is famous for its mix of exotic beaches, spice plantations, history, and diverse culture. Zanzibar’s population is expected to reach 4.6 million by 2050. 80% of the marine litter in Zanzibar is composed of plastics, causing environmental degradation, and threatening marine life, according to Zanzibar Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA).

Zanzibar banned disposable plastic bags and a UNEP report suggests that countries can reduce plastic pollution by 80% by 2040 by making policy and market changes. Ana Rocha, the Executive Director of Nipe Fagio, eloquently stated that “Marine pollution is not generated in the ocean; it is a consequence of land pollution. And land pollution is a consequence of unregulated production.” Although small plastic bags commonly used for shopping in Zanzibar have become less prevalent since the ban in 2006, disposable plastics like water bottles and plastic wraps for food and fabrics are still widely seen.

Nipe Fagio organized an event in Chumbuni, Zanzibar, to celebrate International Zero Waste Month in January 2024. The program included storytelling about the impact of the Plastic Crisis and Master Training on Household Composting. Over 1,100 students and pupils were engaged in the program. We conducted hands-on training on household composting at the new Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Chumbuni Zanzibar. Over 60 community members participated and showed dedication towards systematic waste management.

Zanzibar is implementing the Zero Waste Model to fight plastic pollution and become the first Zero Waste Archipelago in the world. The Zero Waste model is cost-effective to achieve 100% waste collection and increases waste recovery, maximizing reuse, recycling, and composting and avoiding methane emissions.

The Zero Waste Model diverts 70-85% of waste from landfills and incineration, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the overall climate balance. It also creates more and better job opportunities, providing marginalized community members with meaningful roles within their communities and generating positive impacts.

Zanzibar is on its way to becoming the world’s first Zero Waste Archipelago. This waste management strategy is expected to significantly reduce marine and plastic pollution. The Zero Waste Model is not just a solution, but a commitment to a more inclusive future for Zanzibar and beyond. This commitment demonstrates Zanzibar’s powerful dedication to environmental stewardship and development.