Since the industrial age, Plastic has played a vital role in enhancing the standard of living. It has birthed the manufacturing of many products in key sectors of the economy ranging from construction to electronic, healthcare, packaging, automobile etc. They are light-weight, airtight, decay resistant, inexpensive, mouldable and durable.
The continuous rising of plastic demand led to the growing in waste accumulation every year. Only 18 percent of plastic used in cars and building get recycled. For plastic packaging (chip bags, water bottles, shopping bag), only 14% gets recycled. Most of the plastic collected is excluded during sorting and recycling process and only 5% of plastic packaging material is returned to use through recycling. One third of plastic packaging escapes collection systems and it’s lost directly into roadsides, streams, lakes and ocean. Oceans now receives at least 8 billion kilograms of plastic annually. This is equivalent to a full truck of plastic unloading into the ocean every minute.
In marking its Sustainability Week this year, Ecobank Nigeria has asked residents of Lagos State to submit used plastic materials, soft drink and water bottles amongst others to its head office on Victoria Island, Lagos, in exchange for cash.
According to the bank, the idea was to removes non-biodegradable materials from the environment toward a healthy and safe living.
The bank stated that its target was to remove at least four million used plastic bottles from the streets and drains of Lagos through this initiative.
Nigeria needs initiatives like this to reduce the detrimental effect on plastics on the environment. As at now, there is still no nation-wide sustainable waste management system. Waste management shouldn’t be overlooked. It offers a significant investment opportunity via reuse and recycling. Over the years, countries and individuals have launched innovative ideas and projects that can encourage the collection of plastic waste.
For instance, Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city came up with an innovative way to encourage its residents to recycle waste: giving free bus rides in exchange for used plastic bottles. Under the scheme launched by Surabaya, commuters can ride red city buses by dropping off plastic bottles at terminals or directly ‘paying’ a fare with bottles.
A two-hour bus ticket costs 10 plastic cups or up to five plastic bottles, depending on their size, which the city hopes will help it meet an ambitious target of becoming free of plastic waste by 2020.
A bus can collect up to 250 kg (550 lb) of plastic bottles a day, or roughly 7.5 tonnes in a month, the data shows. After collection, labels and bottle caps are removed from the waste and it is auctioned off to recycling companies.
Money earned from the auction goes toward running the bus operations and to fund green spaces in the city, located on the eastern tip of Java, Indonesia’s main island.
Also, a Canada-based company, Plastic Bank created a banking application that can run on plastic collectors’ mobile phones. The app uses blockchain technology on IBM’s LinuxONE servers to create digital wallets to track, store and keep transactions safe. The plastics collected is recycled into what the company calls Social Plastic, a more socially responsible form of plastic which is then sold to international companies for use in packaging or products, as a more sustainable alternative to virgin plastics that can give companies an extra edge over their competitors
With blockchain, we saw how to prevent much of the danger and mistrust involved in using a cash-based system,” explained Plastic Bank co-founder Shaun Frankson. “A blockchain reward system made it possible for people to safely earn and spend Plastic Bank digital tokens. Now, people in these regions with no other resources can collect enough plastic refuse to provide for their families. The volumes of plastic they bring to established recycling centers can be exchanged for digital tokens that enable them to buy goods: food, water, phone-charging credits and more. Anyone running any kind of store can use our app, allowing the exchange of digital tokens for items in the store.
In Germany also, there is a recycling machine that collects PET bottles in exchange for money. To encourage consumers to return bottles after use, they are charge with a few extra cents. Once the bottles are empty, they can be deposited in the bottle recycling machine, where it will automatically calculate the corresponding monetary value of the plastic. The machine issues out a receipt with the cost value of the plastic, which can be exchange for cash or spent at a grocery.
We simply need to step-up our actions towards waste management in Nigeria. We shouldn’t wait again for foreigners to export our waste, just like they did to our raw materials? This is the age of circular economy. Waste is wealth; Trash is cash!
Please find details for the hashtagEcobank4MillionBottles initiative Get Cash for Plastic Bottles (N30/Kg)
Collection centres and dates, 17th -24th May:
Ecobank Head office, Plot 21, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island.
Lagos sewage treatment plant Amuwo Odofin Mile 2 Estate
From 20th -24th May:
Ecobank, 20 Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos Ecobank,
52, Lagos Road, Ikorodu Town, Lagos Ecobank,
487 Ikorodu Road, Ketu
Ecobank Ojuelegba Branch at 8 Funsho Williams Avenue, Ojuelegba Lagos.
Scary numbers I tell you, and even scarier impact! I love the Ecobank initiative! It’s awesome and should hopefully do some magic. The next thought will be around sustainability. After the campaign is over, what next? Are there partnerships that can be put in place for sustainability of the project? Recycling companies, collectors etc?
I think waste-to-value has already been in existence in many countries for quite a while. I state this wherever I go; the TECHNOLOGY is available, the solutions await… The ONLY thing LACKING is our COLLECTIVE WILL to change. Change our consumption patterns, change our mindsets, change our collection-treatment mechanisms.