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The modular network for increasing circularity


About the project

EcoLu and the EcoPontes

EcoLu is a project for establishing a separate collection of recyclables through EcoPontes in Luanda, the capital of Angola. The goal of EcoLu is to expand and strengthen the circular economy and recycling activities in Angola and in the SADAC (Southern African Development Community) region. For this purpose, it is investigated how actors in the field of waste collection and disposal, can be enabled to sustainably operate professional recycling centers for the separate collection of recyclables. The material flows generated in this way will be processed and fed into a customer network to be set up.

Project Partner

Recycled material:


EcoLu project update (as of February 2022)

Since the start of the project last year, various element of a concept for the construction and long-term successful operation have been developed. This is intended to supplement the test-operation of the collection hubs. The different concept elements include:

Material flow concept

  • Identification of the most promising material flows and accumulation points
  • Identification and development of suitable recycling channels
  • Quality requirements for the materials
  • Measures to maintain quality

Operator concept

  • Checklist for selecting long-term operators

Facility concept

  • Criteria for land selection
  • Necessary preparatory actions

Equipment of the collection hubs

  • Equipment
  • Safety plans

Operational organization

  • Identification of the required processes and interfaces
  • Implementation of digital data collection

Concept for further roll-out in Angola and the region

The concepts were developed together with Nehlsen Ambiente Angola Lda. and tested at various collection hubs. Some of them were newly set up in cooperation with local NGOs and others were already in the portfolio of local private actors.

EcoLu objective

The project shall demonstrate that with the selected technology and the recyclable fractions accepted or purchased at the EcoPontes, the required material qualities and cost levels for stable sales to the recycling industry can be achieved.
In addition, the design, the operational processes at the recycling yards (EcoPontes) and the transport logistics between the yards and the processing site (NAA depot) are to be optimized so that an economically viable EcoPontes network can be rolled out.
EcoLu will also identify and apply appropriate communication channels to publicize EcoPontes and its purpose and to bring other stakeholders on board for the expansion of the EcoPontes network.
The project will also identify potential risks within the EcoPontes system and what measures can be taken to respond.

Long-term benefits

Reduction of wild dumping

Recyclable material yards, such as those to be used in EcoLu, have a capacity of about 200 tons per year. As part of the feasibility study, four such yards will be put into operation and observed over an implementation period of one year. The accepted recyclables will be recycled, residues will be sent for safe further treatment thereby reducing waste quantities on wild dumps accordingly.

Reduction of deposited material

Each collection point established can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Landfilling unsorted and untreated waste is extremely problematic in many respects. For one thing, valuable raw materials are literally buried in landfills and are thus no longer available for reuse in the raw materials cycle. A progressive exploitation of natural resources is the consequence. Secondly, a landfill requires valuable building land close to the city, which is urgently needed for other purposes in fast-growing cities like Luanda.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

EcoLu has the potential to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in three ways: First, by diverting the organic waste fraction from landfill to recycling, a major source of methane emissions is reduced. This gas is formed by anaerobic degradation processes of organic material within the landfill body. On the other hand, the recycling of raw materials such as plastics or paper can substitute a significant amount of raw material imports. The corresponding emissions caused by long-distance transport can be saved in the process. With the establishment of a supply security for recyclates, the settlement of further producing and processing companies, which manufacture products for the local market, is provided with a positive incentive and promoted. In addition, the use of recyclates can save a significant amount of CO2 equivalents. For plastics, for example, the saving is 2.2kg CO2eq per kg of recyclate (BVSE, 2018).

Increasing resource efficiency

Recycling makes better use of raw materials already in circulation, reducing or even avoiding the exploitation of natural resources. Recycling makes a valuable contribution to climate protection: the secondary raw materials obtained can reduce the energy required to produce plastics glass, paper and metals by up to 50 percent (Federal Environment Agency). In Germany, municipal waste management not only achieves a climate-neutral effect, but even a climate-positive one. In other words, it saves more CO2 than it emits. A goal that should also be pursued in Luanda, Angola and the entire SADAC region.