Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub has many challenges like the traffic grid lock, infrastructure, waste Management among others.
For the city of over 20 million inhabitants, there needs to be a way to sort out its waste management issues.
To this end, many organisations in partnership with the Lagos State waste management authority (LAWMA) have come up with a means to effectively deal with waste management in the state.
These organisations use bin lorry, mini buses and tricycles to evacuate waste generated in the state to a dumb site or a recycling centre.
According to the chairman of Lagos Recyclers Association, Femi Idwou-Adegoke, there are over One hundred recycling organisations in Lagos which help to recycle waste generated in the state.
One of such organisations is Wecyclers, an organization which operates using “waste for cash principle”.
In one of its facilities in Ebutte metta area of Lagos, southwest Nigeria, women and men from vulnerable and low-income families sort out plastic waste to be recycled.
This task is only one out of the routine jobs of these Lagos residents.
Data from the waste management agency in Lagos, says that over 13,000 metric tonnes are produced daily in this mega city.
Managing Director of the Lagos State waste management authority (LAWMA) Ibrahim Odumboni says each Lagosian generates an average minimum of 0.65kg of waste daily. At least 10% of that is being recycled thanks to initiatives like the Wecyclers.
“Adopting Proper Waste Management helps our environment to become better, because most of these materials that we dispose of as waste can be reused into other products”, operations lead at Wecyclers, Oluwabunmi Ayoola says.
She also emphasised the importance of recycling waste, “by reusing them ( waste) we are reducing the amount of raw materials that we need to create new materials, we are reducing the energy that we put into the environment which can cause greenhouse gases. Green houses gases help to reduce atmospheric oxygen”
Ayoola adds: “By adopting proper waste management, we are promoting community health, we are preserving marine lives.”
Founded by Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola in 2012, Wecyclers has grown exponentially using its waste for cash principle.
Speaking on the goal behind initiative, Ayoola said “the goal of creating wecyclers, a recycling company, is to help people capture value from their waste, and low income communities have a source of livelihood. It is also to improve the culture of recycling”
The waste for cash principle has had impact on the lives of wecylcers subscribers.
Kafayat Ibrahim runs a restaurant on Ibadan Street, Ebutte Metta Lagos.
“The initiative helps the unemployed to be engaged, they are able to fend for their family from the funds they get from the organization. Once people knew what they could get from handling over waste to recyclers, many of them especially the unemployed took it to heart. Now, many of them are able to take care of their families from what they get from the organization.” said Ibrahim
Another subscriber, Femi Taiwo said the organisation has helped with finance to meet some of his needs.
“Most subscribers use the stipends from Wecyclers to take care of their families, especially someone like me.” Femi Tawio.
The end goal amongst others of this initiative is protection, conservation of the environment and sustainable development.
Most of the waste picked up across parts of Lagos are sorted and recycled.
“Since the launch of this initiative, Lagos has seen a facelift. You can hardly see plastic bottles in the gutters. We also collect take away packs among others”, said Omowunmi Babatunde, a sorter.
“This is my eighth year working with this organization and I have used the proceeds from the job to cater to the need of my family, educate my children among others”, she explains.
I must say the management are very nice to us, they provide us with all with equipment for the job, they also help to meet our health needs”
Ridwan Ibrahim, a rider who goes about picking up waste with his tricycle said “if not for this job, I would have been on the street wasting my life. This job helps me to take care of myself and my mother”.
Ibrahim adds: “When I completed my secondary school education, I did an engineering job for a while, later I joined Wecyclers.
I am happy to be contributing to a cleaner Lagos.”
Correspondent David Agunloye Taylor says
In Nigeria, where the unemployment rate is estimated to be 33 percent, this initiative has become a source of income for many unemployed, low income and underserved citizens. And more importantly it has helped to rid the environment of waste and promote sustainable development.