Searious Business partners with Moroccan Supermarket chains to tackle waste from single-use plastic

Reduce single-use plastics in Supermarkets
Searious Business partners with Moroccan Supermarket chains to tackle waste from single-use plastic

Searious Business is working with Marjane and Carrefour supermarkets to implement solutions for plastic pollution in Morocco. The project aims to reduce waste from single-use plastic and improve the recycling of food grade plastic packaging. Customers earn loyalty-card rewards with reusable packaging and recycling their plastic bottles. 

The MOSSUP project (Moroccan Supermarkets tackling Single Use Plastic) is run by Searious Business and funded by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs programme for Small Business Innovation Research. The Searious Business team have partnered with Association Marocaine pour la Protection de l’Environment et du Climat (ASMAPEC) who provide on-the-ground knowledge and assistance in Morocco.  The Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is also supporting the bid to find solutions for waste from single-use plastic.

Plastic waste

Globally, 11 million tonnes of plastic debris enter the ocean every year, with this number forecast to increase year on year. Mismanaged plastic negatively impacts biodiversity, livelihoods, and key economic sectors. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation forecast that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if nothing changes.  Morocco generates 1 million tonnes of plastic waste per year, but only 7% of this is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or in the environment. 

Plastic bottles and deli-counter food containers can be found in nearly every customer’s shopping basket. By tackling plastic waste from these two sources, the supermarket chains aim to dramatically reduce plastic pollution and the impact on our environment.  The changes are to be piloted for 3 months with a view to reducing plastic pollution, improving the recycling of food-grade plastic packaging and creating new opportunities in the circular economy.

The solutions

Two strategies are being trialled. The first pilot is introducing a bottle-to-bottle recycling scheme.  Supermarket customers are invited to return PET plastic bottles to a dedicated collection point in participating stores. For each bottle returned, the customer will receive a voucher or loyalty-card points to spend in store. The bottles are recycled into food grade plastic for use in new bottles. Upscaling potential estimates over 26 million bottles could be collected every year in the city of Rabat alone. This equates to savings of 790 tonnes of CO2 and 530 tonnes of plastic waste avoided.

The second pilot targets the reduction of single-use plastic food containers by replacing them with a reusable alternative. Deli-counter customers are encouraged to opt for a reusable container which creates zero waste. They pay a small deposit for the container which will be returned when they bring the container back to store. The reusable containers are washed and reused. If widely implemented the city of Rabat alone could avoid a huge 5000 tonnes of plastic waste and save 14,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“Searious Business is committed to preventing plastic pollution at the source. Through the MOSSUP project, we are implementing two circular solutions which will keep plastic in the economy and out of our ocean.” said Willemijn Peeters, CEO of Searious Business.

Taking action

The Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment welcomed the project proposal by Searious Business in 2020.  Since then the team has been engaging key players in the retail and recycling sectors in order to change the way plastics are used. Both ASMAPEC and the Dutch Embassy have played important roles by engaging stakeholders, raising awareness, and providing local knowledge in order to get the pilot schemes started. There have been minor delays to the programme due to the Corona virus pandemic, but a strong collaborative approach from all parties has enabled the team to overcome this challenge. The pilots are initially planned to run in select stores in Rabat from March to June, with a long-term plan to prove the concepts and follow with a further roll-out later this year.

Future proofing Morocco

By implementing this scheme, the players collaborating in the MOSSUP project are responding to the need to take urgent and ambitious action to address the problem of plastic pollution. Both these pilots present solutions which fit the circular economy, and could bring about significant and lasting change to the country both in terms of environmental and financial benefits.

Mr Chakour from the Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment stresses: “As a supporter of this project from the start, we are looking forward to seeing the pilots in place and are excited about the potential benefits for the circular economy”.

A key success factor for the MOSSUP project depends on Moroccan consumers and their readiness to embrace change. The retail partners involved in the project must continue to engage their customers in the benefits of reducing plastic waste, and it’s hoped that legislation will soon be in place which will add further support to the plastic bottle deposit return scheme. 

We're calling on all industry players who are interested in resusable food packaging schemes or deposit return systems. If you think you can contribute or you'd just like to know more, get in touch!                                                                                                                                     

For more info contact Emma Samson from Searious Business:

Searious Business are game-changers in the plastics industry. A social enterprise business founded in order to prevent plastic pollution, their work involves systemic change on an international level, and accelerating brands towards circular plastic use.

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Twitter: @seariousbiz Get in touch
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