The wastes generated everyday could turn out to be a multi billion Dollar industry in Nigeria. This estimation may have been stalled as a result of many factors and technology is one of them. More of these wastes which comes in different forms cause health and environmental hazards; and less are transformed through recycling to useful products.
Interestingly, Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy understands the inherent potentials of wastes. A large number startups and entrepreneurs over the years had pitched their ideas in this regards. They identified different methodologies that could be used to transform wastes to something of value. In Lagos for instance, there are recycling firms creating value from wastes. Nigeria generates 65 million tones of waste annually, so the market is there for them to further explore.
This data was revealed four years ago (June 2014) by the Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) and the current amount of wastes in the country may have been eclipsed the current data. The National President of the Society Reuben Osai revealed this while decrying the deficit of waste management infrastructure during a press conference in Abuja.
According to experts, the same wastes which is supposed to be a revenue bank for the nation have drained Nigeria off billions as a result of non-utilization. It is either Nigeria turn the curses of wastes to blessing or spend more money to combat its negative implications.
Curses and Bottlenecks
The negative effects are not far-fetched: wastes on environment and health are immeasurable as they lead to loss in energy revenue, manpower productivity, agricultural yield, tourism revenue etc.
The National Gas Policy puts this in perspective: “Gas flaring affects the environment and human health, produces economic loss, deprives the government of tax revenues and trade opportunities, and deprives consumers of a clean and cheaper energy source,
A Renewable Energy and Environmental Protection Expert, Emmanuel Unaegbu says in Nigeria, over 90% of non-metallic solid waste collected ends up in unsanitary dumpsite.
“As frequent as possible, these dumpsites are set on fire to reduce the volume of waste; disrupting ambient air quality and releasing dioxins, furan, VOCs, PCBs etc. and heavy metals like Mercury and Lead.
These pollutants have long-term health consequences including cancer; liver problems and impairment of the immune system. In addition, the biodegradable fraction of waste forms leachate which seeps into and contaminates ground water.”
Before now, some parts of Nigeria especially the Niger Delta areas have been in serious mess as a result of waste (gas flaring). This has resulted into frictions multiple times and Nigeria’s inability to implement a comprehensive waste control masteplan has worsened the issue. Although, the National Gas Policy highlights strategic solutions to gas flaring but does not necessarily encapsulate a holistic waste control measure.
According to analysis by BudgIT, a social advocacy organisation reveals that “oil companies invested more money in gas production activities and are less concerned about sufficiently investing in technologies and infrastructure to control gas flaring.”
Meanwhile, the “lack of political-will to establish waste control measures as Nigeria loses $2.5billion yearly to gas flaring remains another bottleneck”
Eugene Mba, an expert in waste management suggested solution and puts it in perspective: “The best way to stop all these hazards or minimise them is to engage in recycling as a waste management technique.
Potentials for Nigeria
For instance, according to EPA, USA generated about 250 million tonnes of solid waste in 2010. And recycled about 85 million tonnes of these materials. This saved US about 1.3 quadrillion Btu of energy. Which is equivalent to 229 million barrels of oil.
As factual it may be, Nigeria generates over 65 million tonnes of waste annually and replicating what US has done in Nigeria would be a money bag for the nation. If Nigeria could recycle 50 percent of 65m tonnes of wastes generated. This would amount to 35m tonnes, saving the country over 70 million barrels of oil. However, the infrastructure to make this happen remains an issue to contend with.
The conversion of wastes to energy is another aspect that calls for immediate implementation. Global EfW ( Energy from Wastes) market is estimated to grow by about 50% from 25.3 billion in 2013 to US$37.6 billion by 2020.
In 2015, it was estimated that the over 2,200 energy from waste plants across the world processed about 280 million tonnes of waste, a 45% increase from 2010 estimates of about 192 million tonnes processed.
“Research revealed that Nigeria has a potential for the consumption of un-flared gas. We, at BudgIT, urged all stakeholders to commit themselves towards putting in place the supply-framework, infrastructure and market systems necessary for un-flared gas to reach its end users,” says Oluseun Onigbinde, the Lead Partner of BudgIT
“Although, we observed some progress in the fight against routine gas flaring over the last 20 years, analysis by BudgIT’s Extractives team revealed the volume of gas produced increased by 91.13 per cent while the volume of gas flared reduced by only 38.06 per cent between 2001 and 2016.”
Emmanuel notes: There are technological options available to minimize aftermath release of pollutants and GHG emissions from waste. These include recycling, composting and energy recovery.”
Over the years, the recycling of solid waste had been of predominance in Nigeria. The cool reality remains that there are lots of growing number of different technologies converting other forms of wastes, not just solid wastes to something useful.
There are newer technologies and innovations such plastics-to-oil, gasification (enthanol), and engineered solid fuel. For instance, leading plastic-to-oil firms such as Agilyx Corporation, RES Polyflow, and Cynar Plc are using these technology at a commercial scale.
It is imperative that recycling industries, material suppliers, brand owners, manufacturers, retailers, and private organizations, Federal Government to explore and leverage the technologies available and strategies to take proper advantage of the wastes generated in the nation.
The technologies are there, Nigeria might just need to leverage them, deepen strategies and right public policies that support wastes conversion.