Did You Know?
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By Ikenna Nwachukwu19th January 2021
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By Ann Esievoadje15th January 2021
Garbage is a huge challenge for Nigeria’s cities. Local waste management authorities are barely able to handle the seemingly endless stream of rubbish generated by the country’s inhabitants; evidence of their struggle can be seen in the mounds of refuse that dot urban landscapes in many parts of Nigeria, which apparently rebuild themselves soon after they’re evacuated.
Atop the troubles with finding a place to place waste, there’s a dearth of adequate recycling facilities, and a disconnect between existing recycling companies and most of the country’s population. This gives many garbage dump sites a shudder-inducing sense of permanence.
Thanks to the work of innovative private waste recycling companies like WeCyclers, it’s now possible to dream of a future for Nigeria’s cities that isn’t haunted by rubbish, littered or heaped.
WeCyclers is a social enterprise which runs with the aim of creating a viable ecosystem for waste management.
It takes waste off households and businesses and works to get them recycled. In effect, it’s a modern waste collection and sorting outfit which operates with a truly environmentally conscious ethic; it plugs its customers into the recycling part of the waste management chain.
Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, who founded WeCyclers in 2012, says the company had its origins in an assignment she wrote when she was an MBA student at MIT. It occurred to her that she had put her finger on something – a solution to her country’s waste issues. Years later, her company’s cargo tricycles are weaving through the tight Lagos traffic, carrying waste from households and businesses to sorting centres.
Customers who sign up for WeCyclers’ services get added to its collection routes. The company’s vehicles pick up waste from its customers’ residences or offices (if they are a business), and customers get rewarded with points which they can redeem for food, household items, or cash. The waste is sorted and sold to recycling companies.
WeCyclers’ work benefits the large sprawling communities outside the business and high brow districts of Lagos; but it also serves commercial firms, financial institutions, educational institutions and religious organizations. The venture has a working relationship with Lagos’s State-owned waste management authorities, and is leveraging this to reach into the under-served districts of the metropolis.
Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.