Hundreds of Haitians are gainfully employed by the Environmental Cleaning Solutions S.A. (ECSSA), by collecting plastic waste from the ocean, grinding it into high-quality shreds for export. (Photo: HP)

IDB announces innovative solution to address ocean plastic pollution in Haiti

Hundreds of Haitians are gainfully employed by the Environmental Cleaning Solutions S.A. (ECSSA), by collecting plastic waste from the ocean, grinding it into high-quality shreds for export. (Photo: HP)

Plastic products, collected from Haiti’s seas, are being sorted before transportation to Environmental Cleaning Solutions S.A. (ECSSA) (Photo: HP)

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group’s innovation laboratory arm, IDB Lab, will support Environmental Cleaning Solutions S.A. (ECSSA) capacity to recycle plastic in Haiti.  

Environmental Cleaning Solutions S.A. (ECSSA) is a Haitian recycling company that collects post-consumer plastic materials to transform them into high-quality plastic flakes for export.

Haiti’s plastic problem, turned salvo?

ECSSA operates a social business model that facilitates the collection, transformation and sustainable export of recyclable plastic materials.

Leading the fight against plastic pollution, recycling company Environmental Cleaning Solutions S.A. (ECSSA) collects post-consumer plastic materials – transforming them into high-quality plastic flakes for export. (Photo: HP)

The recycling company has been progressively transforming itself into supplier and innovator around ocean-bound plastics, demonstrating that this problem can be turned into a market opportunity. 

Haiti is considered one of the countries with the greatest risk of plastic entering the ocean. 

The country generates a large volume of plastic waste in urban areas due to the high consumption of treated water, soft drinks, and takeaway meals sold in plastic containers. 

Plastic waste on a beach in Haiti, one of the Caribbean’s most stifled coasts due to pollution. (Photo: Dell)

IDB Lab pumping more ‘oomph’ into ECSSA operations

IDB Lab’s financing of US$1,100,000 will support the expansion of ECSSA’s capacity to recycle plastics and produce a wider variety of end products, including synthetic lumber, for sale to national and international markets. 

The expansion of ECSSA’s operations and product lines will result in an increase in the number of jobs for plastic collectors and the prices they receive for collecting the plastic. 

The Haitians and other communities in the wider-Caribbean countries with shores on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea will benefit from the sustainable preservation of the marine environment, whose livelihoods depend upon.

Nearly as plentiful as the sand, plastic garbage piles up on Haiti’s beaches. (Photo: HP)

IDB Lab’s technical cooperation of $400,000 will be used to help build Haiti’s first commercial-scale, ocean-bound plastics supply chain and to create blue economy plans for coastal communities participating in this new supply chain. It will be co-executed by the Pan American Development Foundation.

This is one of the proposals selected under the Blue Tech Challenge launched in 2018 to identify business models aiming to contribute to the sustainability of the ocean economy.

Normally filled with dried mud, this seasonal river in Haiti is flooded with plastic waste (Photo: HP)

Plastic: the greatest threat to Earth’s oceans

An average of 8-million metric tons of plastic materials enter the world’s oceans every year, increasing at the rate of seven percent each year since 2015.

If the current trend continues, the amount of plastic in the ocean will exceed that of fish by 2050. Every minute, a million plastic bottles are bought around the world. As the use of plastic soars, efforts to collect, recycle and keep it from polluting the oceans fall woefully short of keeping pace.

The sheer volume of plastic being produced, and the fact that it can take more than 450 years to biodegrade, is creating an environmental crisis.

It is estimated that only 11 percent of the solid waste generated in Haiti is collected.  Most of post-consumer plastic is openly discarded, allowing it to wash directly into canals, sewers, and water bodies.

Discarded plastics become breeding ground for pests and are directly related to vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and Zika.

Plastics pose a risk to marine habitats and coastal communities when entering the ocean, thus stunting the economic growth of Haiti’s ocean economy sectors, namely fishing and tourism.