Put a lid on global waste with Bin Twinning

A new initiative to tackle the global waste crisis is inviting people in the UK to ‘twin your bin’.

Bin Twinning will help fund social enterprises setting up waste collection services and recycling projects in deprived and slum communities overseas. It will also encourage people in the UK to cut down their own waste, not least because the waste crisis in developing countries is made worse by importing waste from developed nations.

Two billion people – almost a quarter of the global population – have no waste collection of any kind so they live among mounds of rubbish, or resort to burning it in the open. In developing countries, it’s estimated one person dies every 30 seconds of diseases associated with waste that is not safely managed.

Bin Twinning will invite people in the UK to ‘twin their bin’ by donating to help fund a social enterprise in Haiti, Pakistan or Uganda. In return for a one-off donation of £45, they will receive a certificate to stick on their bin to show it’s ‘twinned’.

The projects being supported are all based in poorer urban communities where there is no formal waste collection and where waste has previously been burnt or dumped in streets and waterways.

Their aim is also to create green jobs, both in waste collection and at recycling hubs where, for example, organic waste is composted and plastics are turned into marketable products such as paving tiles and fence posts.

A global issue

The initiative comes from development agency Tearfund whose Rubbish campaign has been lobbying multinationals Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever and Nestlé to reduce their plastic waste. Bin Twinning’s overseas partners are also raising community awareness about the impact of waste on health and the environment, encouraging people to reduce their plastic use, and lobbying government and business to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first place.

Bin Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley says: ‘We take our rubbish collections for granted but soon notice when our bin isn’t emptied for some reason. Yet, billions of people don’t have this luxury and the only way they can get rid of their rubbish is through dumping or burning it, which puts their health at risk.

‘The mountains of waste you notice when you visit developing nations are a real culture shock – and a hugely neglected development issue.

‘Waste affects us all: urban plastics thrown into rivers end up in our oceans and UK waste ends up in illegal dumpsites abroad. We hope that by twinning their bin, people will become more conscious of their own waste generation too.’

Entrepreneurship in Uganda

British-born Andy Bownds heads up Eco Brixs, the project Bin Twinning is supporting in Masaka, south Uganda. He set up the plastic recycling project after seeing plastic burning in the streets and at the illegal dump near his house. He has had huge success in engaging local people by paying cash for plastics they collect.

‘People in city centres are aware of the dangers of burning plastic and have their waste taken to massive landfill areas out of sight,’ says Andy. ‘But in poor urban areas like ours, there’s no waste collection, so most people have a pit in their garden where they burn rubbish. It’s deeply ingrained behaviour. There’s a school just been built right next to the local dumpsite and the fumes are awful.

‘Eco Brixs has two ways of helping to change this: motivation and convenience. Money is arguably the greatest motivator so we buy every bit of plastic people collect, providing income to the community. Then, by setting up our recycling hubs in major trading centres and markets, we make it easy for anyone to earn through recycling. We’ll work with anyone and everyone: our planet is dying, sadly, but we can do something about it and we have to do it together.’