Cameroon: Plastic Bottles Trade – Menial but Lucrative


Vendors are capable of making an average of FCFA 3 000 to FCFA 5 000 profit on daily basis.

A woman is sited with a pool of soapy water and a huge pile of empty bottles on Monday September 21, 2020 at Mokolo Elobi neighbourhood in Yaounde.

Just besides her is Paci, another plastic bottle vendor who inherited the trade from her father. Paci is equally a proud owner of big bowl of soapy water and a washing scrub, which seems to be the main working tools of vendors.

She is spotted sieving clean bottles from dirty ones. At the same time, she tries to attend to a customer. “Five bottles for FCFA 100,” she tells the client, “but I can give you six bottles because you are my customer,” she adds.

However, the price depends on the state of the plastic bottle and its size. Paci says she sells as low as four 0.5 litter bottles for FCFA 100 and as high as seven bottles for the same price. She justifies the price flexibility for the same product on the state of the customer.

No matter the price, the vendor, however, indicates that she still maximises profit and breakeven only on very rare situations and periods. The vendor discloses that he can make as much FCFA 3 000 to FCFA 5 000 a day depending on the turn over mindful of the fact that there are days he can sell up to 1 000 bottles.

Poised to know who the buyers are, the vendor says those who sell fruit juice, folere, cooking oil and water are regular customers. Questioned on the hygienic situation of the bottles, the trader indicates that she takes time to wash them before displaying it.

“If a customer does not see your bottles clean, he cannot come closer,” she indicates before adding that, “as you can see the competition here is high and you need to be clean enough to attract many customers”.

A customer whom we stumbled on regrets that at times they buy the bottles very expensive and at the end, make very little profit from sales. “I sell water and this is where I buy my bottles because she is a little cheaper and her bottles seem to be cleaner”.

“When I take these bottles, I make sure that I wash them very well so that my water should not be contaminated,” she reveals. To get the best, the customer books for the bottles before arrival. Other users decide to buy directly at a wholesale price in order to maximise profits.

As for suppliers, she reveals, “We buy the bottles from boys who move around the streets and pick them”. Paci further opines that the suppliers sell at least eight bottles for FCFA 100. “At times we even take it in bags and just estimate the amount and pay,” she elucidates.

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