Passive Sampling in Senegal

Published: 23 January 2017

Like many other African countries, Senegal has a problem with large amounts of rubbish. The country is collecting more and more plastic. As a result, recycling is increasing rapidly. In the Greening Plastics project, Deltares is looking at whether agricultural equipment such as irrigation pipes can be made from recycled plastic.

In addition, the project will make it possible to draw the attention of local organisations to the low-threshold technology of passive sampling and to develop it further.

Major issues such as waste management, environmental degradation and rising demand for food dominate the political agenda in the African country of Senegal. The Greening Plastics project focuses on the interaction between all these areas. The project contributes to a cleaner environment by collecting plastic and then melting it to produce simple drip-irrigation systems. In turn, these systems will make the work of local farmers more ‘climate-proof’ by saving water and improving crop yields.

Greening Plastics Senegal Afval plasticFurther develop Passive Sampling

The Greening Plastics project, which was launched in October 2016, will continue for a total of two years. Passive Sampling is applied to monitor water and soil quality in locations where recycled irrigation kits are used. In addition, there is also potential for the further development of the method so that it can be applied more widely in developing countries.

The Deltares passive sampler is a kind of rubber mat to which chemical substances bond. The mat is buried for a few weeks or months, or suspended in water or in the open air, where it captures the chemicals that are present. The samplers, which are already used in Netherlands, therefore also record fluctuations in concentrations of xenobiotic substances. Passive sampling provides a reasonably accurate picture of levels of exposure in humans and animals to these substances.

Passive Sampling Greening plastics SenegalNumerous advantages

Passive samplers have numerous advantages. They are easy to use, cheap and can be used anywhere. Of course, the samples still have to be analysed in a laboratory. But when there are large numbers, the costs are not as high as might be expected and it is no longer necessary to send expensive professionals into the field with complex measuring equipment. This makes passive sampling ideal for measuring environmental quality in developing countries because everyone can take samples.

Greening Plastics is being funded by ViaWater, a financing programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for innovative solutions to problems with water in African cities. The partners are an Italian NGO, Lvia, who have been working on waste management in Senegal for some time now, and DMS, a local start-up that makes plastic products from recycled plastic.