By Ebele Orakpo
As states look for ways of increasing their internally generated revenue, Engr. Andrew Idowu Desmennu, Managing Director/CEO of Andrew D. Idowu and Co. says they should look in the direction of waste management and stop capital flight occasioned by processing waste outside their domains. He says the company has come up with a system whereby people can earn money while disposing their waste and keeping the environment clean.
According to Desmennu, waste, like every product, has its value chain and if properly programmed and harnessed, will lead to increase in internally-generated revenue (IGR) for states and greater income for the citizens. “Until waste becomes a source of income generation for everybody, we will never get out of the quagmire.
About 80 per cent of waste cannot decompose because they are chemical-based but every waste can be recycled. We don’t even eat enough so organic waste is just about 30 per cent of waste generated.
“We carried out a research on how we can solve the waste problem. We have people who collect waste from different locations; they are the primary collectors. Assuming we have one million households in Lagos and I, as a waste collector, give polythene bags to them free of charge – yellow for plastics, red for bottles and green for organic waste.
Then when I come, I weigh everything and pay like N20 (for bottles, metals) and N50 (for plastics) per kilogram and I take the waste to the recyclers. If you go to the Lagos toll gate every weekend, you will see men bringing in waste from different parts of the South-West into Lagos. For instance, someone may be collecting cans in Oyo State, and with hydraulic jerk, he presses the cans and someone else buys them and takes them to Lagos for recycling.
If I buy at N20 per kilo and sell at N25 per kilo, I make N5.00 on every kilo. If I am able to bring two tons (2,000kg) in a week, I will be making N10,000 a week. The more waste I bring, the more I earn. If I buy two tons for N40,000 and sell for N50,000, I make N10,000 profit and I go back to buy more from households with N40,000.
You will see people, including graduates, going to pick up these things. They will employ wheelbarrow pushers who will deliver the waste at the depot and collect their money.
So the money will just be flowing and before you know it, I start recycling. This will give rise to recycling machines fabricating. They can give to recyclers on hire purchase. These people can get loans from banks and gradually, small enterprises will spring up.
“Once I collect cans from households, for instance, I compress them and someone will come to pick them up. This will lead to a cleaner environment because everyone will want to keep their waste for sale. So you will not see people throwing waste on the streets. A driver will tell passengers to drop cans or plastic bottles in the car so you will not see people throwing things out of the window.
After sometime, he knows where to take them to and collect his money. The person who has just eaten corn in the car will not throw it away; he will put it in his bag because he knows it is going to add to his waste at home. Now, those who are recycling are making money from it so let those who are generating the waste also make money.
Supermarkets like Shoprite can put a machine in their premises; so people can take their wine bottles or plastic bottles there, the machine grinds them, weighs them and calculates the amount to be paid. Then somebody who makes glass will come to Shoprite, pick up the glass and pay. This is how it is done abroad.
“People collect organic waste and take it to the bush where it is turned into fertiliser. Goat waste is money. A goat can generate close to one kilo of waste per day if it eats well. Assuming it generates three kilos a week and I have 10 goats, that is 30 kilos and I’m getting N20 per kilo.
People come to collect poultry waste here and spend N2,000 per bag to take it to the north and that is why we see their watermelons and tomatoes big. They do not use chemical fertilisers. We can start to sell our poultry waste, cow dung and goat waste.
“You will see people picking waste even from gutters, not minding whether it is dirty or not. Within six months, there will be no plastics in our gutters. But all this needs education and it is not going to be government-driven.
In Ibadan, MTN Foundation did something where they recycle organic waste and it becomes fertiliser. Once it is milled and turned into liquid, a tanker will come, take it to a place and they drain it and sprinkle it on the farms. They do not even need to wait for it to decompose. It will decompose on the farms.