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How Recycling in Nigeria Can Help the Poor

Recycling in Nigeria
Most members of the poor communities of Nigeria struggle with disposing of their waste, inherently making them vulnerable to exposure to epidemic diseases, such as malaria, meningitis and other diseases. Accumulation of trash in sewages and gutters contaminates waters, creating a breeding pool for mosquitoes and vectors. This article will illuminate the accomplishments of two successful Nigerian female entrepreneurs, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola and Mariam Lawani, who executed practical tools to incentivize communities to adopt a sustainable livelihood and reward them for their efforts. Despite the environmental benefits of motivating others to recycle, the economic and social benefits are equally as remarkable. Here is some information about how recycling in Nigeria can help the poor.


Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola set up WeCyclers in 2012, a Lagos-based social enterprise fundamentally driven by fostering sustainability, physical and emotional well-being and socioeconomic empowerment for poor-income households. It provides impoverished households the opportunity of creating utility from their own recyclable waste. They collect recyclable waste from their homes and travel to Wecyclers collection point in Lagos, using low-cost cargo bikes called “wecycles.” The company then sorts and packages the waste before selling it to Nigerian manufacturers, who turn it into eco-friendly items.

Members of the local community are strongly incentivized to register as they get reward points for each kilogram of goods they recycle every week. Over time, they exchange the points for money or staple goods. The role of recycling in Nigeria in this context can help tackle poverty in Nigeria.

Unlike a conventional car, cargo bikes can travel through extremely tight roads. Consequently, Wecyclers can further expand its waste management infrastructure to the densely populated regions in Nigeria. Since Wecycler’s establishment, it has thrived significantly, allowing it to diversify its methods of transporting materials. It now uses vans, trucks, mobile technology and electric tricycles to deliver more recyclable waste to manufacturers.

This strategy of rewarding participants generates a ripple effect as family and friends of participants acknowledge the advantages of getting involved. They are vicariously reinforced to register to WeCyclers, as a way of reaping the benefits of participation. Adebiyi-Abiola states how the social enterprise “stopped actively reaching out to households to register people” because “people see their friends getting rewards for clearing up, and they want to do the same,” Copenhagenize Index reports. Here, she pertinently highlights how local community members observing others commit to a particular cause and receive bonuses motivates them to become part of the movement.

Greenhill Recycling

Rising poverty rates in Nigeria galvanized Nigerian entrepreneur Mariam Lawani to find a solution to these challenges. She founded Greenhill Recycling, a social enterprise that raises awareness of poverty and unemployment concentrated in Lagos in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The process Greenhill Recycling adopts is a “household collection system.” It picks up recyclable waste from the doorsteps of its subscribers, such as aluminum cans, water sachets, plastic bottles and empty cans. Those who take part receive redeemable green points that they can exchange for groceries, household equipment or even educational supplies for children. This demonstrates its altruistic nature in giving back to individuals from poor incomes.

Both organizations generate a platform for rural communities in Nigeria to be active agents and autonomous individuals in creating a pathway out of poverty. Recycling in Nigeria provides a beacon of hope for poor Nigerians to escape from the vicious cycle of poverty.

– Dami Kalejaiye
Photo: Flickr