Wecyclers is an innovative social enterprise using an incentive-based program to help solve Lagos’s acute waste management problem.
Each week, Wecyclers’ cyclists go round low-income neighborhoods in Lagos, Nigeria to pick up recyclable trash from registered households. Items such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans and plastic sachets are all weighed and logged on site, and from there are taken to a specific sorting area where they’re bagged in order to be sold to recycling factories.
In return, the residents receive points based on the weight of recyclables they collect, which they can redeem for basic food items, consumer electronics, or cash.
Wecyclers, which works in partnership with the Lagos Waste Management Authority, makes its money by selling the materials on to manufacturers.
Lagos, which is home to more than 21 million people, generates around 10,000 metric tons of waste daily. Only 40% of it is believed to be formally collected, leaving large quantities of rubbish blocking gutters and piling up on streets and outside houses.
Wecyclers aims to build a low-cost waste collection infrastructure while raising general awareness on the importance of recycling for environmental sustainability and social welfare gained from reduction in pollution and diseases like malaria.
The idea for Wecyclers came up when Lagos local Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola was studying for her MBA at MIT in 2011. Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola said: “For me, the environment is really where it all starts. When you have a clean environment then you have health, when you have health then you can start thinking about money, jobs and things like that.”
More than 6,000 homes a week currently participate in the Wecyclers scheme.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea