In 2010, IAMGOLD’s Essakane mine in Burkina Faso recognized the need to enhance its plastic waste management given that the region lacked a recycling facility, forcing the mine to bury large quantities of plastic on site. Given this pressing issue, and the company’s focus on sustainability initiatives, the idea to work with a local entrepreneur to support the development of a plastics recycling business to manage waste generated by the mine site was born.
By working with a new plastics recycling company, the mine was able to avoid burying plastic while also supporting the recycling business to shred different types of plastics and bag the resulting granules in reusable bags to be resold. The initiative is particularly innovative in that it not only enhances the management of plastic waste, creates permanent jobs for community members, and is entirely led by the local community, but also can be easily replicated in surrounding communities, resulting in a significant positive impact for the region that far extends beyond IAMGOLD’s operations.
Given the project’s success at the Essakane site, it was important to the company that its reach could be extended to other neighbouring communities interested in environmental stewardship and community engagement. This innovative plastic shredding unit can be replicated in any location, remote or urban, where there is a problem related to the recycling of plastic sheeting and there is no doubt that the recycling company working with IAMGOLD will eventually encompass the collection of plastic waste in the region outside the immediate mine site.
The results speak for themselves. Since its inception, over 65 tons of plastics that had previously been stored on the mine site have been recycled, a massive achievement in reducing the mine’s environmental footprint that has inspired local community members to set up businesses to recycle other types of waste, all of which will undoubtedly have a far reaching and positive impact.