Cross section of women sorting plastic waste
By Ebunoluwa Sessou
One common problem shared by both the rich and the poor is the growing number of plastic wastes in the environment.
According to Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, FBRA, it is observed that the amount of plastic bottles used in Nigeria has doubled in just the past three years, to an estimated 150,000 metric tons annually, with half of them consumed in Lagos.
Against this background and as part of an effort to commemorate 2021 World Environment Day as well as empowering women through Plastic to Resources project initiative, Global Shapers Community recently trained 246 individuals on recycling.
The initiative which was geared towards empowering women and youths on the platform of World Economic Forum was designed to address the plastic waste challenge in Lagos and empower women and youths to turn waste into wealth.
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The project which was funded through the New World Program sponsored by Global Water Challenge and Coca Cola Foundation, was set up to create job opportunities for women and youths in underserved communities in Lagos, by empowering them with recycling skills and helping them earn income through recycling.
With leading recycling organisations – Ecoprune and HB Imagino engaged as technical partners, the Plastics to Resources project has since inception, trained and absorbed into the plastic recycling industry 20 women who were recently empowered to become employers of labour.
Speaking during the ceremony, April Amorighoye, Curator, Lagos Hub said about 200 metric tons of plastic waste has been collected and processed into food-grade packaging.
“The essence of this project was to help change the behaviour of citizens on waste disposal through a waste collection and aggregation system, while also empowering women with skills on how to turn waste-to-wealth. We are glad that this project has led to improved sanitation, hygiene, and adoption of better waste management by residents in the host community.’’
Commenting on the milestones recorded during the project, Babajide Oluwase, Co-Lead, Climate & Environment, Lagos Hub said: ‘’This project involved a lot of stakeholders’ consultation, and we kicked off with a sensitisation in February 2020 where we recruited 232 plastic champions and educated our host community on the importance of disposing waste the right way.
‘’In addition, because we care about the sustainability of the businesses these women have started, we have decided with our partners, to ensure continuous payment, once they bring in plastic waste packages to their factories.
“Our goal is to now expand this program to more communities, empower more women and youths and execute this project on a larger scale,’’ he added.
Wunmi Ogunde, Coordinator, Ecoprune while speaking during the program commended the Hub on the project’s success, and also called for more collaboration to tackle waste.
‘’We are glad to have been a part of this project and we would like to see more collaboration in the recycling space as that is the only way public and private stakeholders can achieve lasting change and reduce plastic pollution in Nigeria.’’
With Lagos generating millions of plastic waste daily, and the state estimated to double in size by 2050 to 32.6m people, it is important that key stakeholders in the private and public sectors come together to implement projects like this, which will reduce the plastic waste pollution problem and provide employment opportunities for residents of Lagos.
“We have trained the women in sorting, gathering, crushing and packaging of plastics and the covers.”
Omolara Rasheed, a beneficiary of the initiative said: “This job has created an avenue for proper engagement in the recycling industry and we are happy.”
Another beneficiary, Latifat Adediji, said: “Before now, Ï do not know what the recycling industry entails let alone knowing what waste-to-wealth is all about but I am well informed now. My prayer is that I will be an employer of labour soon. This job has helped sustain my family. Now, I can support our home, business and finance our children’s education.”