Opportunities in Waste Management Value Chains

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    In many countries efforts are being put in place to convert wastes to wealth as part of efforts to tap into the waste management value chain, writes Ugo Aliogo

    Waste management has become a global issue which countries are making efforts to address. Waste can take any form, from either solid, liquid or gas and each have different methods of disposal and management.

    The various kind of wastes include municipal or residential, gaseous, solid, hazardous and liquid. In the waste recycling value chain, there are the pickers (collectors) standing at the bottom of the ladder, who interface directly with the aggregators (collection/hubs) and while the aggregators deal directly with the recycling companies who collects the waste for processing and recycling.

    According to the World Bank, with a rapid population growth and urbanisation, municipal waste generation was expected to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025.

    Also, the Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) had estimated that nearly 65 million metric tonnes of waste are generated in Nigeria per annum.

    While globally, it is around 1.7-1.9 million metric tonnes. WAMASON also estimated that Lagos generates 13 million metric tonnes of wastes.

    With the large volume of waste generated in the country, the expectation is that Nigeria should focus its attention on efforts aimed at converting these wastes to wealth, to boost revenue generation.

    But not much progress is being made in this regard. Nevertheless, there are lots of opportunities available in the waste recycling value chain for Nigeria such as plastics recycling, employment generation, Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative, and power generation.

    Plastics Recycling
    The solid waste in Nigeria has a strong value. But to extract this value, there is need for strong infrastructure investment by government such as Multi-Purpose Recycling Facility (MRF) and an anaerobic digestion for the processing of organic waste, tyre recycling, and plastics recycling.

    These infrastructural investments should be established in major zones across to process and treat wastes generated in each zone with a drive to produce useable products for the country.

    This effort when implemented, is expected to help reduce the amount of waste lost through burning, burying and poured into the ocean, rivers and lakes. Countries that are in plastics recycling are the products recycled to support their economies and generate through sales.

    While other countries are focused on buying wastes from countries for recycling to produce usable commodities.
    Nigeria cannot be left out, there should be commitment and sincerity of purpose from government not just to curb the effect of waste to tap into plastics recycling.

    Renewable Energy Generation
    Countries are recycling wastes to produce renewable energy. This helps to support many economies in the area of power generation and reduces the burden of electric power as the only of source electricity.

    For instance, a particular company in the United Kingdom known as Focsa Services UK recycles one million tonnes of wastes yearly to generate more than 44 megawatts of renewable energy and employs 2,200 workers.

    While Lagos according to WAMASON generates 13 million metric tonnes of waste without nothing to show for, but if there is state and federal government focus in this area, it will be effective in addressing the country’s power problem by providing alternative source of power.

    This would impact positively on industries and companies by reducing the cost of production and encourage other investors to invest in the economy.

    Employment Generation
    There are opportunities for direct and indirect employment for individuals in the waste management value chain such as collection from point of generation, recycling, and waste treatment. Stakeholders have suggested that if government establishes a recycling plant in each its zone across the country, it is capable of providing employment opportunities to the teeming population of the country.

    They also argued that individuals can setup sorting/collection hubs where the pickers submit the waste collected and they get paid.

    They explained that if government increases its focus in this area, private waste treatment facilities can spring up which would employ more people, thereby reduce the unemployment swell in the market.