WeCyclers: Saving Lagos From Its Mountains Of Waste
Published on Fri, Jun 14 2013 by Web Master
Lagos is Nigeria's most populous city and Africa's second fastest growing city. With those identifiers comes a high rate of consumption which is inevitably accompanied by waste generation. The heaps of refuse that can be seen at Ojota, a community at the entrance of the city, are odoriferous testaments to that fact. While it may not admit it, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) is swamped, struggling daily to maintain a semblance of cleanliness along major roads but collecting only about 40% of city garbage in the process. In prominent places, gardens and so-called parks can be seen. These cleverly manicured lawns and hedges are landlocked islands of green in a brown sea, struggling to divert attention from the ubiquitous landfills composed of non-biodegradable bags of water, scrap metal and other products of urban life. Such pretentiousness may fool travelers who in transit can only catch glimpses of the city, but inner city dwellers who are tasked every day with circumventing mounds of waste in order to reach their homes know better.
But there's some hope. WeCyclers, an innovative recycling start-up located in Yaba, is making an ambitious bid to recycle a bulk of Lagos' waste. The enterprise started by Bilikis Adebiyi, Alexandra Fallon and Jonathan Kola seeks to offer household recycling services in densely populated low-income neighborhoods of the city by collecting waste with a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycle. Families are motivated to recycle plastic bottles, plastic sachets, and aluminum cans through an SMS-based incentive program: for every kilogram of material that families recycle, they receive redeemable Wecyclers points over their mobile phones in return. Points can be used to redeem goods of value such as call credit, basic food items, and household utensils/appliances. After collection, Wecyclers sells sorted waste to local recycling plants.
In February, online documentary series My Africa Is shot three videos, known collectively as The Lagos Chronicles, which provide fresh perspectives of the Nigerian city. The recently-released first webisode focuses on Bilikis Adebiyi, CEO of WeCyclers. Watch the video below.