Kitintale – In the heart of Uganda, a resilient and determined woman named Mariam Nansasi is rewriting the narrative of plastic waste management. Working in collaboration with Coca-Cola Beverages Uganda’s Plastic Recycling Industries (PRI), Nansasi is a PET waste collector who has dedicated herself to creating a sustainable waste economy.
As we celebrate World Environment Day under the theme Solutions to Plastic Pollution, her inspiring story serves as a beacon of hope, urging us all to act and protect our planet.
Nansasi, a 45-year-old resident of Kitintale, Nakawa Division in Kampala and a mother of 7 has been on a remarkable journey as a PET waste collector, empowering her community for the past 12 years. Her day begins at 6:00 am following her Subhi (dawn prayer), as she steps out with a mission to sort discarded plastic bottles she has purchased from her dedicated collectors.
Alongside her team of four, she meticulously sorts through the bottles, removing labels, discarding dirty and unusable ones, and sorting them by colour.
Her expertise in the field has allowed her to optimise her operations, ensuring maximum efficiency in turning waste into profit.
With her business acumen and strong work ethic, she is able to educate all her children as well as construct a decent house to ensure their well-being.
From humble beginnings, she has successfully built a thriving enterprise, employing approximately 20 collectors who bring PET waste to her home where she operates her business.
“Money is money. What I earn from trash collection doesn’t differ in appearance from what others earn from their jobs.
“When I began this business many years ago I used to move in communities collecting trash by myself and some people gave me the plastic bottles at no cost because they pitied me. Today I employ approximately 20 collectors and work with four people in the sorting process. No one pities me anymore.
“I have instead inspired many people to get into this business because it’s rewarding and it helps us to clean the environment,” Nansasi says with a warm smile.
Despite her success, she remains grounded and humble. She urges aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to enter the plastic recycling business to start small, finding a space to store the collected bottles and save around 500,000 Ugandan Shilling as start-up funds.
“All you have to do is have the will to start and I urge all women and youth out there to join us. This job will give you financial stability. It is better than waiting for people to give you handouts. Start from your home if you can’t rent a place to operate.”
Her unwavering spirit and determination to make a difference fuel her relentless pursuit of a greener future for Uganda.