Upping the ante in creating wealth from waste
In many aspiring mega cities across the globe, waste management is usually an assignment that requires immense diligence and capacity, on the part of those saddled with the task.
That, perhaps explains why the Lagos State government, is engaging a higher gear as it strives to rid the state of the growing heaps of trash that are mushrooming here and there.
In many parts of the state, indiscriminate dumping of refuse is creeping back gradually, owing largely to the ineptitude and gross lack of capacity displayed by outfits hired to keep the state clean, through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
In some climes, organic wastes like livestock excrement, human excreta, crop residue, and municipal solid waste (MSW) can be of great benefit to the public. But in our clime, that has not really been the case. In fact, wrong handling of these waste products could lead to the outbreak of a deadly epidemic.
Be that as it may, while the thrash mounts, some smart Nigerians are busying themselves with the business of turning waste into wealth. The country generates about 542.5 million tons of livestock waste, human excreta, crop residue and MSW per annum.
This, experts say, has the potential to yield about 25.53 billion m3 of biogas (about 169, 541.66 MWh), and 88.19 million tons of bio-fertilizer per annum. Both have a combined estimated value of about N4.54 trillion ($ 29.29 billion).
Drawing from the foregoing, Kanayo Odeo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Alchemist Energy, an outfit that majors in generating wealth from waste, revealed that not only will people get wealth from livestock waste, but appropriate use of same would also serve as a means of reducing environmental and public health concerns, deforestation, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
According to Odeo, who sees the present economy as an eye opener, “There is no waste in Nigeria, all that is lacking is the right mindset. There is no poverty anywhere except in the mind. Lots of opportunities abound in this country, but only few are open to it. Anybody who has an understanding of the situation can generate wealth, in other words, make money from refuse dumps.
“At one point in my life I wanted to be a medical doctor and I was admitted into the University of Ibadan to study medicine. I was most fortunate in my research when I was selected to be part of a team at the most advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world, Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington DC, United States. There, my research focus was on bioremediation of wastewater to improve the purification of wastewater before it is sent back to the lagoon, where it is consumed by human beings, after further, but slight treatment by water companies. Also, we treated the water so that waste dumped in the water body will not kill life forms like fishes, etc.
Odeo, whose father has a poultry farm in Lagos, on return to the country immediately set out to work, in order to make good use of the enormous waste generated from the farm.
Hear him: “We have converted poultry droppings and fishery waste to energy here. We have also treated fish wastewater so that it can be reused by the fish farm. We can use cow manure, horse manure, pig manure etc., to generate power. We just recently completed another 500-m3 biogas plant, which powers a 350KVa diesel generator, where we reduced diesel consumption from 68 litres per hour to 20 litres per hour.
“In terms of monthly cost, this is a huge savings. We have one at a large poultry farm, which is located in Kuje, Abuja, and another at a feeds and livestock Ltd, located in Delta State. We have just commenced a 200m3 plant for a fishery outfit located in Rivers State, which the farm will use in treating its effluent and powering the generator on the farm.
“The benefits that accrue from this exercise abound. One, it reduces diesel or power consumption in farms, and high-density municipal areas. It also removes bad odour from farm environments, as well as remove flies and extreme pestilence. If the government were to adopt extreme wastewater treatment, we would be able to reduce the incidence of malaria and other waterborne diseases thus reducing the demand we place on hospitals,” the CEO said.
Odeo, who stressed that: “Poorly managed waste spreads disease, contaminates water resources, increases the cost of potable water, increases flooding, pollutes the air, and repulses tourists,” added, “I want to state categorically that our clients who have benefitted the most from our technology are large-scale farms that we helped them reduce their diesel and fuel consumption by at least 60 per cent.”
Apart from the sector being responsible for the food on Nigerians’ table, Odeo insists that enormous waste generated from the sector, which are considered valueless, can serve as raw materials capable of sustaining wealth creation.
Said he: “The use of such raw materials derived from agricultural sector for value-added products manufacturing will kindle and increase the industrial and economic development of the nation and the world at large.”
Odeo’s claims were corroborated by Prof. Babatunde Ajayi, of the Department of Forestry and Wood Technology, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State.
Speaking at the 77th inaugural lecture of the institution held recently, he said: “The adequate use of agricultural by-products will lead to the reduction in exploitation of dwindling timber resources and forest biodiversity, increase efficiency in wood resources utilisation, prevention of environmental degradation, alleviation of poverty or wealth creation, mitigation of climate change and increase raw materials base for provision of construction works, as well as affordable building materials for core and low-cost houses.”
He added that various manufacturing processes of new products, using the numerous prevalent bio-fiber wastes, would open up a large vista of opportunity for job creation, new products development, healthier environment, commerce and sustainable chains of profitable activities, new orientation in industrial movement and development.
“The use of such raw materials derived from the agricultural sector for value-added products manufacturing will kindle and increase the industrial and economic development of the nation and the world at large,” he stated.
Last year, the Lagos State government said it had begun a public-private initiative, which would see it produce gas from waste dumps. According to Executive Chairman, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Olumuyiwa Adejokun, “It is a veritable option to adopt in recycling our waste, which we generate daily in thousands of tons. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration has invited a company from Holland, whose specialty is on converting waste to wealth to create jobs for both old and young. We are expecting them anytime from now to come and collaborate with us on the project,’’ said the LAWMA boss.