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Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos


The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that.

Adeyemi Okuwoga is on the hunt for trash. Neighbors bring out bags of plastic and aluminum waste. He weighs them and carts them off, free of charge.

Okuwoga works for Wecyclers, a company that picks up recyclables from poor neighborhoods like Ebute Metta in Lagos.

Wecyclers co-founder and CEO Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola says the city produces about 10,000 metric tons of trash daily.

“So all those trash, the black bags, the pure water sachets that clog the drains, everything can be recycled. It’s a raw material for people that have factories. So our goal is to collect all those materials as cheaply as possible on a large scale and then give them to people that can use them," said Adebiyi-Abiola.

At their nearby depot, Wecyclers sort and process their haul. They then sell off their recyclables to firms that re-use them. The start-up has yet to turn a profit, but plans to press on and expand to also compost organic waste.

The company awards residents points based on the weight of what they contribute. People can cash points in for gifts including plastic bowls, generators and bicycles.

Ebute Metta resident O.O. Oladapo says her neighborhood is cleaner.

“Now that these people are working, I think they make Lagos clean, you understand because Lagos is a dirty place, most especially these cans, pure water [bags] and the plastic," said Oladapo.

So far, Wecyclers only works in two neighborhoods in this massive city, processing about 40 to 50 metric tons of recyclables each month. That's not even one percent of the city’s daily waste.

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