Charcoal and Biochar

Transformation of organic waste (paper and cardboard) into Charcoal and biochar

Every day, Maputo’s and Matola’s residents consume more than 800t of coal for cooking. On the other hand, these same residents produce approximately 800t of organic waste, paper and cardboard every day. So why not create carbon from organic waste, paper and cardboard? This will allow on one hand the reduction of municipal waste and on the other hand, the reduction of deforestation.
In Vilanculos, AMOR already turns 10 m³ of organic waste, paper and cardboard in coal per day through a low-cost technique that is taught to the local communities (relying on 9 neighborhood committees of Vilankulos Village). Briquettes of coal are made out of the waste and directly used to cook. The coal thus made also gives powder that is used to produce « biochar » and been applied in the fields.

The biochar and charcoal (obtained from biomass carbonizing) are added to the soil with the aim of improving their physiological functions. Among other features, the carbon acts like a sponge. It increases soil’s retention capacity of the lacking sandy soils of the country. Centuries ago, the Indians in the Amazon region were applying charcoal to improve soil’s fertility, which created the famous Terra Preta do Indio: a kind of dark soil extremely fertile due to the application of coal.

Since one of the major characteristics of the biochar is to retain water and nutrients, it also allows greater efficiency of fertilizer applied to the soil. Thus the private sector has interests in developing products biochar based. Several ways to « load » biochar are now being evaluated with either compound, chemical fertilizer (NPK), guano and also human feces, in order to increase their positive impact.

However, despite the interest of many actors, among others, the local office of JAM – Joint Aid Management, an international NGO working in the field of agriculture, assessing the results of biochar and the private sector, to produce a wide marketing plan, requires financial support to assess the impact of biochar. It is estimated that for the study to be well done, it takes a value of USD 55 000 for a duration of 24 months. On the other hand, the coal production process from waste is already under way and only requires an investment USD 24250 to replicate the pilot to wider scale.

Charcoal and Biochar project sheet


Vilanculos, Inhambane Province, Expansion to all Mozambique


• Municipal organic waste transformation into coal
• Soil fertility improvement

Project’s cost

USD 24,250 for coal, USD 55,000 for biochar,


24 months


Transform municipal organic waste into charcoal and biochar


• Teaching communities how to produce charcoal from organic waste, paper and cardboard
• Assess the positive impact of biochar in agriculture on Vilankulos’ soils
• Produce and promote biochar among rural communities by improving soil fertility as a way to increase productivity and combating climate change


• Municipal waste processing (organic, garden waste and waste paper and cardboard) to make charcoal and biochar
• Biochar conversion into a powerful fertilizer through its mixture (= his load) with different materials
• Training farmers on biochar’s production and use
• Dynamic research and adapted testing with scientific results
• Registration and monitoring of waste use and calculation of greenhouse gases emissions savings.

Implementers and partners

• AMOR – Mozambican Association of Recycling
• JAM – Joint Aid Management


• Organic municipal waste, paper and cardboard are recycled to produce coal used by citizens.
• Farmers are using the coal ashes to produce biochar.
• Environmental impact mitigated by recycling waste, is reducing the use of chemical fertilizers, reducing deforestation and increasing carbon sequestration in soils.

Support Charcoal and Biochar project