By Nudge Sustainability Reporter Peter Okeugo
In the metropolitan city of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, with an ever-increasing population of 18 million people, it is normal to find waste of all forms littered on the streets. But where the inhabitants reject these unwanted materials, Wecyclers, a waste recycling social enterprise, have found new use for them.
Founded by Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Jonathan Kola, and Alexandra Fallon and based in the city of Lagos, Wecyclers does not only collect wastes; it also empowers local communities to make money out of the unmanaged waste littered on their street. Unbelievable? Read on!
The organisation’s sustainability initiative is unique and more than 5,000 households have embraced it. Not only have they created a healthier environment; the households are getting wealthier too and everyone is happy. It has given households a chance to capture value from their waste by rewarding them with redeemable points, based on the volume and quality of recyclable waste they provide.
For every kilogram of material the households recycle, they receive redeemable Wecyclers points over their cell phones in return. The points can be redeemed for valuable goods, such as cell phone airtime, basic food items, and household goods.
After collection, Wecyclers sorts and aggregates the materials at the household level to sell to local recycling processors. With a high level of efficiency, it provides a consistent supply of well-sorted, high quality recyclable materials to the processors, thereby alleviating their supply challenges.
Wecyclers works in partnership with the Lagos Waste Management Authority and collects recyclable waste, including plastic bottles, plastic bags, and aluminium cans using low-cost tricycles called ‘wecycles’.
Slum inhabitants, without efficient waste collection mechanisms, are subject to increased flooding, disease spread, and psychological stress.
Wecyclers sustainability model solves the problem of urban waste challenge for households and recyclers and is aimed at achieving a sustainable environment, sustainable economy as well as sustainable health.