Every year about 4.3 million deaths are caused by the unclean combustion of wood. RecyCoal represents a solution to counteract current problems existing on the African continent all originating from the same source: burning wood inside the house for cooking and heating purposes. With RecyCoal briquettes we aim to prevent these issues and to improve the living conditions of affected people along three dimensions. Most importantly, RecyCoal contributes to overcoming several health issues. Breathing the smoke of indoor cooking fires is the cause of massive suffering on the African continent; diseases such as pneumonia and lung cancer are prevalent. Women and children are most endangered: here lies the main cause of fatal infections for children under five. Pneumonia accounts for 20 percent of 11 million yearly deaths among African children. To understand the extent of the toxic smoke which is released when people use wood or traditional charcoal for cooking, considering the effects of traditional cigarettes provides a relatable basis: A single hour of being exposed to an open fireplace is comparable to inhaling the smoke of 400 cigarettes.
Burning wood leads to toxic and partly carcinogenic emissions inside the house, but it also contributes to a second major problem: deforestation. Forest clearance has already led to soil erosion, crop losses, desertification, and therefore results in the decline of ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity. In the end, deforestation also leads to an increase of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.
Moreover, the financial burden of using wood as a fuel is remarkable: Families spend up to 33 percent of their monthly income on fuels. This leaves them with less money to cover other areas of life such as nutrition, health, or education.