The $400 Billion Dollar Business of Turning Waste into Gold
A white man once said that in Nigeria, every street is literally lined with gold, but surprisingly no one is seeing it. That statement looks very doubtful, especially considering the extent of poverty occasioned by the current economic recession.
However, a closer look at this statement will reveal that there is no smoke without fire.
We waste so much in Nigeria, from the government level down to our individual household. Oil companies simply flare our large resources of Natural gas, instead of converting it to cheap and safe cooking gas. The same oil companies refuse to build refineries on our shores, but will export our crude paying less than $30 dollar per barrel to our government but go abroad, refine it and sell it back to us at over N100 per liter for gasoline only. From a single barrel of oil, they make over 300 different products, from fuel to pharmaceutical products.
For today, I am not focusing on the incredible waste in the oil sector, rather I will focus on the waste generated in our house hold. On every street corner and slum, are heaps of waste, and maybe this is what the white man referred to as gold. Little do we know that from the heaps of waste littering our streets, we can generate millions of dollars in income.
Waste recycling is one of the fastest growing business in the world. In Nigeria however, it is seen as nothing but waste. A new report commissioned by Environmental services company Veolia has stated that the world market for waste, from collection to recycling, is worth around 300 billion Euros (US $410 billion)
There is so much wealth in waste management from low-skilled waste collection business, to the more skilled waste recycling industry. A market worth over $400 billion worldwide. Yet in Nigeria, Waste litters every corner of our streets, and is a nuisance instead of being a money spinner.
In this article and subsequent ones, I will go through the entire waste management value chain, dissecting the numerous businesses and opportunities available in this sector, with the hope that you may find a niche that you can take advantage of.
Millionaires Academy is working to ensure that we uncover the thousands of opportunities in Nigeria, so our youths will be gainfully employed and our economy will turn from a consumer nation to a producer.
Some of the business opportunities we shall be dissecting in the waste management value chain are:
1. Waste Collection and sorting business.
2. Plastic waste recycling, Making plastic products from waste
3. Getting gold and precious metals from e-waste (Watch short video of the process on this page.)
4. Biogas Manufacturing from waste
5. Metal recycling business
6. Paper Recycling
7. Glass Recycling
8. Extracting Lead, Zinc, and silver from recycled battery
9. The huge electronic waste industry
10. Making building materials from waste
11. Organic fertilizer from waste
12. Waste oil recycling
As you can see, there are many uses for waste, unfortunately in my dear country, we simply waste everything. We prefer to buy foreign fertilizer for N10,000 a bag, than make organic fertilizer. We prefer to buy paper, in fact everything, even toothpick from outside the country.
Today, Recession is opening a great opportunity for entrepreneurs who can grab any of this opportunity and make something useful out of readily available waste.
This is not a new business, other countries are already doing it. Examples
This is an e-waste recycling business, started by 25 year old Egyptian Mostafa Hemdan. “I was watching a documentary about electronic recycling, and I realised there was a lot of potential in extracting metals from mother boards – gold, silver, copper, and platinum,” he says. Today his company Recyclobekia employs 20 people across four warehouses, and sells $2.4m (about N700 Million) of electronic waste per year.
Founded by 16 year old Andrew Mupuya, it is Uganda’s first paper bag production company. To start the paper production business on a small scale, Andrew figured out he needed about 36,000 Ugandan shillings ($14 about N4500). He raised $11 from selling 70 kilos of used plastic bottles and then borrowed the remaining $3 from his school teacher (For those always crying about startup fund, you can see that most time, what we have is idea problem and not money problem, that is why we urge you to join Millionaires Academy for working business ideas and professional training. Register @ http://register.millionaire.ng/ ). Today, the business has grown quite dramatically. Andrew’s paper bag company now employs over 20 people and produces more than 20,000 paper bags every week.
Lorna Rutto left her bank job in 2009 to start EcoPost, one of Kenya’s biggest plastic recycling businesses. Her business recycles plastic waste, which is collected from dumpsites and garbage cans across Nairobi, to manufacture fencing posts. These posts, which are used to fence houses and forest reserves, are fast becoming a preferred alternative to timber.
So far, Lorna’s innovative business has produced over 10,000 fencing posts, created more than 500 jobs, and generated more than $150,000 ( About N48 million) in yearly revenues. Better still, her plastic recycling idea has saved over 250 acres of forests which would have been destroyed to produce wood for building and construction needs in Kenya.
Attero Recycling India:
Attero Recycling was born when its founder just wanted to throw out a laptop. Rohan Gupta the founder, realized there wasn’t an environmentally friendly way to get rid of the equipment. He and his brother, Nitin, drew up a business plan in late 2007 (Can you prepare a workable business plan? If not, take our free lecture on Comprehensive Business Plan). Attero is now collecting and processing about 1,000 metric tons of e-waste a month from over 500 cities in India, and extracting precious metals like platinum, gold and selenium from the trash. Annual revenues nearly quadrupled over two years to $15 million in the fiscal year that ended this March, and they eked out their first profit that year. Compared to the world’s, and even India’s, e-waste heap, the company’s efforts are small, but the way they recycle is getting attention around the world. They’re now building processing plants in Mexico and Ireland to deal with local e-waste there.
There are hundreds of other entrepreneurs both big and small making millions of dollars from waste management.