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Pilot project launched to buy used plastic bottles

The WAMCO office in Hulhumalé is collecting used bottles.



A team of young entrepreneurs have launched a project to buy used plastic water bottles in a bid to combat plastic pollution. 

In the Maldives, more than 280,000 plastic water bottles are used daily in the capital alone. Most households rely on the locally produced bottled mineral water for drinking.

In partnership with the state-owned Waste Management Corporation, the Rahdhu (Return) project offers MVR1 for a bottle.

During the pilot phase from Tuesday to Saturday, only bottles with a particular sticker sold in shops, cafes and restaurants near the WAMCO office in Hulhumalé will be refunded, Ahmed Afrah Ismail, a spokesman from Rahdhu told the Maldives Independent.

The bottles have to be returned to the WAMCO office near Centro Mall or the waste disposal area in the northwest corner of Hulhumalé, a reclaimed island connected via a bridge to the capital.

“We will put out 10,000 bottles with stickers and see how many are returned,” Afrah said.

The team hopes to achieve a return rate of at least 80 percent. The results of the pilot programme will inform whether it could be rolled out nationally, he said.

In the future, the plan is to hand over the project to WAMCO to run as a consumer deposit scheme with a deposit of MVR1 being added on top of the cost of a water bottle.

The team hopes the project would also reduce the burden on WAMCO to keep the streets clean.

According to WAMCO, the company spends MVR2.5 million every month to collect litter.

The Rahdhu project is part of the smart city campaign run by Ooredoo and UNDP Maldives in partnership with the Hulhumalé Development Corporation. The litter management project was proposed during the urban innovation challenge last year as a solution to the challenge of plastic waste management.