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Recycling solid waste to curb epidemics, disasters

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Nigeria’s waste generation by 2025 is estimated to reach over 75.49 tonnes yearly, at a projected rate of 0.85 kg of waste/capita/day.

An estimate that poses a grave danger to the country as it is expected to experience an increase in environmental hazard, epidemic and severe health conditions among other consequences.

According to experts, Nigeria generates over 62 million tonnes of waste a year, with each person generating an average of 0.65 kg/day. This has not only exposed the country to huge financial loss but health and environmental implications.

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Experts have warned of imminent life-threatening consequences if the issue is not addressed urgently to save the country and its citizens.

Meanwhile, statistics indicate that about one million waste plastic bottles are churned out every minute globally, while five trillion plastic bags are generated yearly, which is about 10 million units every minute. It is also estimated that no fewer than eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year, which emit chemicals that contain toxic substances that destroy marine life.

Other implications include flooding, especially in the metropolitan cities, where plastic bottles, plastic bags are known as polythene bags and other waste materials fill the drainage channels, hindering the free passage of water.

However, experts suggest recycling as a key measure to eradicate the menace posed by solid waste, as it will save the country from excessive spending as well as provide employment for many, both old and young.

As part of the move to lessen the burden of solid waste in Lagos, with an estimated 21 million inhabitants and waste generation of over 15,000 tons every day according to experts, Wecyclers’ model has been designed to help fill this gap and reduce solid waste in the streets – improving both the environment and the well-being of the populations.

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Wecyclers is a Lagos based waste management start-up. that utilises low and high technology solutions that comprise SMS technology and a mobile application, as well as low-cost collection vehicles, which collect recyclable waste directly from households to sell to recycling plants before being made into new products.

Recently, Wecyclers received the 2019 King Baudouin Foundation African Development Prize award to develop further their business and increase their impact at national and international levels.

The company has also been selected for its economic impact, by rewarding citizens with “points,” it allows low-income communities to capture value from their waste.

Today, Wecyclers already benefits from the engagement of more than 17,000 subscribers in seven localities in Lagos. It registers around 200 new members each month. The Nigerian start-up has also created 200 jobs in seven years, with a focus on women, who currently account for 60 percent of their workforce.

Speaking on the impact of the prize, the Africa Coordinator of the King Baudouin Foundation, Hervé Lisoir said: “ Through its financial support of €200,000, the African Development Prize will allow Wecyclers to upscale their model and increase their footprint, with plans to expand in Lagos, other Nigerian cities and neighbouring countries.

The Prize also provides access to a wide network of stakeholders in Europe and the US, who may support them as they grow. With current growth projections, Wecyclers aims to collect 5,000 tons of recyclables by 2020 and could be serving 500,000 households by 2023.

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He noted: “The independent Selection committee selected the enterprise out of 244 applications for its innovative approach to engaging the community, turning to recycle into an economic driver for communities and turning citizens into agents of change.”
Commending the development prize, the Chief Executive Officer, Wecyclers, Olawale Adebiyi said: “Giving back to the community is in the DNA of Wecyclers. We want to expand our business to other neighbourhoods. In the midterm, we want to be big enough to build our own recycling plant. Growing more for Wecyclers means being able to give back even more to the community.”

Since Wecyclers launched its initiative, awareness around the issue has risen among the general public, spurring several other companies to develop new solutions to recycling.

“We have seen the impressive contribution of Wecyclers over the years. Their success and solution are changing the perception of waste management in the state. As a primary regulatory agency, we are particularly happy about the expansion of Wecylers through innovative partnerships which will help them reach new locations and help drive the Lagos State Government’s waste management aspirations. I’m without doubt that this award will go a long way in its ongoing expansion to new localities,” said Ola Oresnaya, Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).

The award ceremony in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium at the Royal Palace in Brussels, Belgium, will take place on June 12, 2019.


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