Home to a number of the poorest countries in the world, it is no surprise that Africa is the second most polluted continent on the planet. African Impact has been working here for the past 15 years and has seen the devastating impact that plastic, litter and other waste has on the communities and wildlife initiatives we support.


  • Just 10 rivers across Africa and Asia carry 90% of the plastic that ends up in our oceans
  • Along the South African coast, there are over 3,000 plastic particles every square kilometer
  • Over 1 million tons of plastic are thrown away in South Africa every year
  • Approximately 500 shipping containers of waste is dumped in Africa every month
  • In the last study, only 10% of all trash produced in Africa was recycled
  • An immeasurable number of towns across the continent have no official waste collection service, meaning there is nowhere for litter to go

Despite the shocking statistics, many African nations are actually at the forefront of the fight against plastic. Countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Morocco have now banned plastic bags entirely, while South Africa enforces high fees for the purchase of a plastic bag in supermarkets. Africa has the potential to leapfrog the traditional cycle of waste-collect-dispose, and create a circular economy with creative solutions to reuse-repurpose-recycle.

We're excited to be here on the frontline.

South African woman collecting cardboard for recyling in South Africa


African Impact’s plastic and environmental sustainability initiative is working to reduce the impact of plastic and waste on people, the environment, and wildlife in Africa. Across two locations in South Africa and Zambia, we are connecting fiercely passionate international volunteers and interns with driven, motivated local communities, who are then able to work together to solve one of our planet’s most pressing issues; plastic and waste.

In line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 13, 14, and 15, this initiative champions locally-led solutions, with a focus on; the prevention of waste, direct clean-up action, and exploring creative opportunities for reusing, repurposing and recycling plastics.

-> Read more about volunteer activities to prevent waste

Building awareness around why waste is an issue in Africa is a delicate process, given that many communities live in remote, poverty-stricken areas and are unable to access waste collection services, or even afford refuse bags. However, education on possible alternatives is much-needed and necessary. It is also enthusiastically welcomed by the communities, as proven by the incredible response we’ve had to our plastic and waste initiative so far. As a volunteer or intern in Africa, you’ll help prevent plastic and waste from reaching our oceans by holding educational workshops with local communities, as well as facilitating discussion groups to look at the issues and the possible solutions.

-> Read more about volunteers taking action to reduce waste

While education is important to halt the rapidly increasing flow of plastic into our environment, it is also important to practically reduce the waste in our natural areas. To achieve this, we facilitate mass volunteer clean-ups on both the land and water, involving local people and community groups. We also research and action reducing, reusing and recycling opportunities for waste that that minimizes people’s need for single-use items.

-> Read more about opportunities for income-generation

For a sustainable change in behavior around litter within areas of extreme poverty, it is important that alternative waste management schemes benefit the local people. Alongside our team, volunteers and interns get involved in income-generating schemes that help turn plastic and waste into profitable and innovative products. Things like creating eco bricks for buildings and infrastructure; providing composting areas for schools and clinics that enhance their community gardens (zero waste living!); and teaching local artisans how to make crafts and jewellery to sell to tourists. This is a real opportunity for volunteers to release their inner creative personality and ideas, providing a source of support that will empower new nations of environmental business owners.



Clean up a wildlife haven in Zululand, helping local people earn an income from plastic waste and litter.


Upcycle plastic into eco-bricks and other innovative products at this project near Victoria Falls.


Delve deeper into the issues of environmental sustainability while exploring new waste management alternatives on this internship near Victoria Falls.


The Bigger Impact

An Environmental Sustainability Intern in Zambia

Environmental Sustainability itern, Maya Halevy, gives us insight into the internship - explaining the need for it within a littered community.
African Impact are the Top Rated Volunteer Organization and best in the World
The Bigger Impact

The Top Rated Volunteer Abroad Organization: African Impact

Read why African Impact have been named the best volunteer abroad organization for three years running by the leading travel resource, GoAbroad.
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