A recycling project in Senegal is transforming old tyres and waste into functional structures for schools and public places. Ivor Bennett reports.
The furniture is certainly striking. But not for the reason you might think The seats and benches at this university park in Senegal are all made out of rubbish. The colourful paint is merely the icing on the cake. SOUNDBITE (French) STUDENT, MAMADOU NDIAYE SAYING: "At first there were only a few students who came here to learn because there were trees, there was rubbish and all that. It was a bit dirty. But now people come here everyday to clean the chairs, and even pick up the rubbish that's lying around." Any rubbish will do, even non-biodegradable. It's packed into old tyres which are then filled with sand, before being wrapped in wire and covered in cement. It's part of an initiative by a French NGO to educate school children about recycling. SOUNDBITE (French) 3000 ECOMEN ASSOCIATION PROJECT LEADER IN SENEGAL AND TRAINER, OUSMANE SOW SAYING: "What we see as rubbish, for example when someone buys a drink, they drink and throw away the bottle. It's not like that now, what we throw away is more valuable, and the students understand that." Before launching the project, the furniture was tested at Ousmane's house which is now full of tables and chairs made out of rubbish. Since then, they've completed over 50 projects, recycling 16,000 tyres and 17,000 tonnes of waste. SOUNDBITE (French) 3000 ECOMEN ASSOCIATION PROJECT LEADER IN SENEGAL AND TRAINER, OUSMANE SOW SAYING: "We don't need electricity or any energy-consuming materials. All we need is the land, where tyres, rubbish, everything is free." Despite attempts to curb pollution, including a ban on plastic bags, Senegal produces around 2 million tonnes of waste each year. Now, though, it has somewhere to go.