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LAFARGE, formerly known as Chilanga Cement, is the country’s pioneer cement firm having been established in 1949.

Chilanga Cement to help manage solid waste

ZAMBIA has not been spared from waste management challenges faced around the globe, with 75 percent (6.9 billion) of all plastic accumulating in landfills and the natural environment. Over the years, the main challenges our country has been facing in waste management are insufficient capacity for recycling various types of waste streams such as plastics. There are also challenges of insufficient capacity and equipment for municipalities to deal with the collection, transportation, and disposal of waste. Further, there is inadequate awareness on sound management of waste and their impact on human health and the environment. According to the African Waste Management outlook report by United Nations Environment Programme in 2018, around 70 to 80 percent of municipal solid waste generated in African cities is recyclable with an estimated economic value of US$8 billion per annum. It is for this reason that Chilanga Cement Plc, through its ECO Unit, has started working on a pre-processing plant to improve efficiency and provide a long-lasting solution to different types of waste in Zambia, including municipal solid waste. For over 70 years, Chilanga Cement Plc has been well known for being Zambia’s building solutions provider, but it is now committed to ensuring a healthier and cleaner future by minimising and repurposing waste through its garbage management brand. Launched in 2017, ECO Unit is a waste management brand of Chilanga Cement Plc that is specialised in offering solutions for disposal of different types of waste, including non-degradable plastics. ECO Unit has in recent years grown from managing a volume of 2,883 tonnes of waste in 2019 to 13,000 tonnes of hazardous and non-hazardous waste in 2021, using the technology of co-processing, thus ridding the environment of waste. Co-processing is a globally recognised technology through which waste is treated in energy intensive industries such as cement. The technology of co-processing is the safe destruction of waste that occurs parallel to the cement manufacturing process at high temperatures and long residence time existing in cement kilns. It is an approved technology by Basel Convention for disposal of all kinds of hazardous and other wastes, and is recommended for destruction of persistent organic pollutants and ozone-depleting substances under the Stockholm Convention. In its recent communication, the European Commission advised its member states to take a long-term perspective and consider co-processing as an important lever for the circular economy. The circular economy is endorsed by several international bodies such as United Nations Environmental Programme, German Development Agency, and SINTEF, a Norwegian independent research organisation. It is evident that unsustainable waste management practices put a strain not only on the health of communities in which we live, but also on the environment. That is why at ECO Unit, we are ready to partner with agricultural sector players, municipalities, recyclers, and non-governmental organisations in the waste management sector. The sector includes waste management companies that are licensed by Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to address the challenge. We believe in collaborating with various stakeholders like ZEMA and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, which are pillars for developing a sustainable and impactful waste management solution. We would like to call on all waste generators to ensure that the Environmental Management Act number 12 of 2011 and the extended producers responsibility are adhered to for a cleaner and safer environment. As Chilanga Cement Plc, through our ECO Unit brand, we will significantly contribute to a safer and cleaner world by offering smarter waste management solutions that are environment-friendly. We are proud to have been part of the just-ended EU-Zambia Economic Forum that was held from May 18 to 19 under the theme, ‘Economic transformation through green growth’. We had an opportunity to interact with President Hakainde Hichilema, Ministry of Green Economy and Environment Permanent Secretary John Msimuko, and other key stakeholders. The author is the head of ECO Unit at Chilanga Cement Plc.