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Commissioned by the Ethiopian government, Addis Ababa’s Reppie Waste-to-Energy plant is the first facility in Africa to convert trash into electricity. The USD 100 million facility is based on the site of the city’s largest dump and incinerates over 1,400 tons of waste every day, converting it into enough electricity for one-third of the capital’s residents, some three million people! Beginning operations in January, the Reppie facility meets European emissions standards, it will also recover 30 million liters of water from the waste, while the ash from the plant is turned into bricks.

We all know that innovations around sustainability are hardly a ‘trend’. They are essential. But we’re seeing Africa emerge as a pioneer in making bolder, bigger sustainability moves. Last year Kenya implemented a law that banned all plastic bags, with fines in excess of USD 19,000 for importing or manufacturing them! Now Ethiopia’s facility is killing (saving?) multiple ‘birds’ with one stone: reducing pollution and providing multiple benefits – electricity, bricks, and even jobs – all at once. 

And although many of these eco-innovations were borne out of dire necessity (last year 114 people died in a landslide at the dump), the wider takeaway should be clear: are you looking to Africa for eco-innovation inspiration in your quest for cleaner, more efficient solutions?

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