From Germany to Zambia: young people connect the worlds

Trash4Cash is the name of the waste processing company that young people founded in Zambia in 2019 in collaboration with DACHSER and the children's charity terre des hommes. The business idea, which combines sustainability and social aspects, was born during a youth exchange with DACHSER trainees and young professionals in Germany. Five years later, the group from Livingstone in Zambia has now visited Kempten in the Allgäu again.

Trash4Cash members with Lara Kühn, apprentice at waste management company ZAK, (2nd from left) at the recycling center in Sonthofen.

During their current visit, the eleven Zambians and their companions, the project supervisor from the local NGO "Environment Africa" and a representative of the Livingstone city administration were keen to expand their knowledge. They learned about technologies and processes that they can implement in their company. In addition, the focus was on meeting and exchanging ideas with young employees and trainees from DACHSER and the municipal waste management company ZAK.

"It's great to see that so many people bring their waste here out of their own motivation," says Namo Chuma, project manager of the local NGO "Environment Africa" and Trash4Cash member, as he observes what is happening at the recycling center of the Zweckverband für Abfallwirtschaft Kempten (ZAK) in Sonthofen. "This is not a matter of course in Livingstone. Many people in Zambia don't think about disposing of waste. That's why we go to schools in our home country as ambassadors and educate children from an early age about proper waste separation and the importance of this effort."

The Trash4Cash team spent three days actively working at the ZAK recycling center and the local used goods store, gaining valuable insights into the practice of waste processing in Germany. For example, the project participants received and sorted waste items, dismantled electrical appliances, disposed of the individual parts separately and attached price tags to goods, such as jewelry, for sale in the second-hand department store.

Further promoting Trash4Cash

"I am delighted that we can repeat our exchange and that all project members from Zambia were able to come to Kempten this time. You all have the chance and opportunity to bring together the perspectives of both countries and living environments and to share your challenges and perspectives with each other," said Bernhard Simon, Chairman of the Dachser Board of Directors, addressing the young people from Zambia and Germany at the opening event in early May. "Our last exchange resulted in something very special, the company Trash4Cash, which has established a local value chain for recyclable waste in Livingstone. From the social project, you have managed to become successful entrepreneurs and create an income for yourselves and your network of local waste pickers. We are very proud of this and want to continue to support the development of Trash4Cash."

With Trash4Cash, the young people in Zambia have created their own value chain for recyclable waste, which offers great added value in several ways. They have created jobs for themselves and an additional source of income for some people in the district, who receive money for the waste they hand in and pre-sort. They are also keeping the environment clean in their homeland, which thrives on tourism, as well as improving the hygiene and health of the inhabitants of Livingstone.

Learning from each other

In addition to practical impressions at ZAK and other waste processing companies and a workshop on the sensible use of social media for companies at a local newspaper publisher, the focus was on the exchange with dual students and young employees of DACHSER and ZAK. While the Zambians gained experience with German waste management, the young people at DACHSER Head Office also made progress with their project. They are working on an improved waste separation system for the head office in Kempten. To this end, they organized a workshop with the Zambian visitors.

"We formed three stations and worked with the T4C members to develop presentation material for pinboards, among other things, which we can use to present our waste management project to employees at the DACHSER Head Office in Kempten," explains Marius Holweger, Training & Consulting Systems Operations at Dachser. "We benefit from each other's experience, know-how and ideas."

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