Ethiopia’s plastic industry is rapidly expanding. Since 2011, the annual consumption of plastic products has increased by double digits, and total consumption has more than tripled. The packaging industry (58.4 percent), construction (9.4 percent), and automotive industry (6.6 percent) are the three major business segments.

According to Economist Melka Girma, there are both formal and informal recycling systems in place, and the country has one of the highest recycling rates in East and Central Africa, equivalent to certain European countries. In Ethiopia, however, there are no regulations that directly govern recycling in terms of statutory recycling prices or limits on the use of recycled materials.

Melka Girma went on to say that studies show that recycled plastic bottles leech more toxins into drinks. The thermoplastic PET is the third most often used form of plastic in food packaging, with single-use drink bottles being one of its most popular end uses. However, PET is also known to be a source of a number of hazardous chemical pollutants, such as endocrine disruptors like Bisphenol A, which can cause reproductive issues, cardiovascular problems, and cancer, among other negative effects.

As a result, the fact that reused plastic emits more pollutants underscores the necessity for a ‘super clean’ recycling procedure. Ethiopia can increase the chance of decontaminating recycled PET to levels comparable to virgin PET by investing in new super-clean technology and formalizing the legislative environment, said Melka Girma.

Melka Girma can be reached via millenias2011@gmail.com

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