How technology’ll turn Nigeria’s 65m tonne waste to wealth

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Posted on April 23, 2018

As Nigeria loses over N2.5 billion yearly to gas flaring alone in an age where South African firm, AgriProtein, ramps up multimillion Dollar investments through maggot farming, a technique of converting food waste into protein, the sky may be the limit for the country if it harnesses its 65-million- tonne-annual waste into a venture that can earn it Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

This initiative, known as zero waste economy where wastes are reduced, reused and recycled, is already making waves in some advanced countries where people throw things away as a last resort.
But due to lack of proper waste management culture in Nigeria, this practice is yet to take root as Africa’s biggest economy continues to lose billions of Naira in rubbish dump annually.

According to expert, another variety of wastes, flared gases, have equally drained the country of millions due to non-utilisation. So far, the effects of such wastes on environment and health are unquantifiable as they lead to loss in manpower productivity, agricultural productivity and tourism revenue, to mention just few. “The best way to stop all these hazards or minimise them is to engage in recycling as a waste management technique,” said Eugene Mba, an expert in waste management.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr Oluseun Onigbinde, the Lead Partner of BudgIT, a social advocacy organisation, decried the lack of political will to establish waste control measures while lamenting that Nigeria loses N2.5billion yearly to gas flaring.

Although, other means of waste management such as incineration and land-filling exist, but, because of their shortcomings, the world is turning to recycling for waste reduction.
Incineration, for instance, which involves waste burning, emits carbon monoxide into the atmosphere; land-filling, on the other hand, emits poisonous methane gas into the earth crust which may also pollute ground water table. It is also a source of water, air and soil pollutant as found in various dump sites located across the country.

A policy paper from www.gov.uk/government/publications, stated that before the United Kingdom decided to move towards a zero waste economy, its waste market undertook the interesting task of examining the creative ways in which some European countries, namely Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, have managed their waste collection market.

“We want to move towards a ‘zero waste economy: a society where resources are fully valued, financially and environmentally. It means we reduce, reuse and recycle all we can, and throw things away only as a last resort,” said the UK government in the policy paper.
The document added that the mission was to make businesses responsible for what they produce.

“The UK has laws that require some businesses to make sure that a proportion of what they sell is recovered and recycled. These producer-responsibility regulations are based on European Commission (EC) legal requirements. They cover producers of packaging, batteries, electrical and electronic equipment as well as vehicles. The country, which produces about 330 million tonnes of waste a year, a quarter of which is from homes and business, told councils in England to increase recycling rates to 50 per cent by 2020 – about the double of the rate then.

Eye opener
Because of its benefits of turning wastes into useful materials or products, recycling may be Nigeria’s best bet to turn its waste to wealth. For instance, waste recycling leaves environment clean and beautiful. This may be a tourist attraction to international visitors who will come with their foreign exchange (forex).

Aside that, recycling can also provide people with gas for cooking and power generation. This was aptly demonstrated by the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which said that the country generated about 250 million tonnes of solid waste in 2010 and recycled about 85 million tonnes of these materials. This, according to EPA, saved the US about 1.3 quadrillion Btu of energy, equivalent to 229 million barrels of oil.

Coming home, Nigeria generates over 65 million tonnes of waste annually and so if the US feat is replicated here and 34 per cent of those wastes is recycled, the country would be recycling about 22 million tonnes of wastes annually. This would save the country about 59 million barrels of oil. This would go a long way in solving the country’s major problem: power generation. Maybe that is why Onigbinde urged the Federal Government to explore existing technologies and strategies to reduce the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere.

Hear him: “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.

“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. This implies 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.”

Recall that the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, recently said that in current documents that cover the gas flaring penalty, the penalty was drafted as a charge. “A charge is tax deductible; so when international oil companies (IOCs) flare the gas, they pay the charge on which they get tax relief”, Adeosun added.

Painting a sorry sight of the environmental pollution caused by the flared gases, Onigbinde said:

“BudgIT Team visited communities in the Niger Delta in April 2017 and observed several cases of gas flare near residential neighbourhoods, specifically Polaku and Ogu communities in Bayelsa and Rivers States respectively. The effects of gas flaring are not limited to deformity in children, but it also caused lung damage, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis,blood disorders and a host of other fatal health conditions.”

Onigbinde then called on the Federal Government to muster the political will necessary to execute Nigeria’s gas master plan and to enforce regulations aimed at tangibly achieving Zero Routine Gas Flaring.

“Also, proceeds from gas flare penalties can be channeled towards funding health-related research in the Niger Delta region, to protect the residents and improve their living conditions, he added.”

John-Paul Iwuoha , the founder of Smallstarter Africa, in his article:“From Waste to Wealth – How to build a profitable business out of Africa’s huge waste market”, believes that there is so much money to make from organic waste processing  also known as composting.

Hear him:“Most of the waste collected from households, restaurants, bars and hotels are organic and biodegradable( they can decay). They include kitchen waste and leftover food. Other forms of organic waste include: market waste, vegetable, grass, plants and animal waste.

Composting is the natural process of converting these organic waste into a stable product (compost) under controlled conditions. Compost is a natural product that is rich in several essentials nutrients which makes it a great and widely popular organic fertilizer. Most people in the compost business often use worms, heat and moisture regulators to speed up the process

“Although there is a huge demand for compost manure, it only makes business sense that a company in South Africa is doing some really amazing stuff in organic waste recycling. Agriprotein produces maggots from organic waste which it processes into animal feed and nutrient-rich compost for organic agriculture.”

From maggots to millions
AgriProtein, a South Africa-based company, is building a profitable business using organic waste to tackle the food security challenges posed by the world’s burgeoning population.

The company was named a top 10 Virgin Media Business Disruptor to Watch in the Fast Track 2017 published last December   in The Sunday Times of London.

In its citation; “From Maggots to Millions – How AgriProtein, a South African Business, is Making Amazing Products from Maggots”, by Pete Kelly, the Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, AgriProtein was said to be pioneering an emerging industry that uses flies and their larvae to convert food waste into sustainable protein, replacing fishmeal in aquaculture, farmed animal feeds and petfood.

Kelly said: “We are delighted to name AgriProtein as one of the UK’s most disruptive businesses.  They have seen an opportunity and made it their purpose to disrupt long-established markets and practices, creating an entirely new industry to great success.”

The company has fly farm projects under development in several countries to produce its flagship product, MagMeal , for the $100 billion aquafeed market and ultimately for poultry, pigs and petfood.
EU regulations have permitted the use of insect-based nutrients in aquafeed since July 2017, while other geographies already permit their wider use in agriculture and pet-food.

Using a factory roll-out model developed with global engineering firm Christof Industries, AgriProtein is able to deliver fly farms on a turnkey basis anywhere in the world at the rate of up to 25 factories per year.

Jason Drew, its co-founder and CEO, said: “Our success is the fruit of eight years of perseverance in the face of failure. Soon people will consider the upcycling of nutrients just as normal as they consider the recycling of paper, plastics, metals and glass to be today. The bigger we get, the greater the benefit to the environment.”

“The company is building a profitable business through its circular economy strategy: using organic waste to tackle the food security challenges posed by the world’s burgeoning population, while helping conserve wild-fish stocks in our threatened oceans”, wrote The Sunday Times.
Last September, MagMeal was named the BBC Food Chain Global Champion 2017 for helping secure the future of food while delivering significant environmental benefits.

Also, earlier in 2016, AgriProtein entered the Global Cleantech Top 100 and won a CleanEquity award for its environmental technology research, presented by Prince Albert II of Monaco.

The success story of the company is instructive for Nigeria. In Lagos State, for instance, where waste dumped indiscriminately on highways and major roads, was adjudged to outweigh the official figure of 13,000 tons per day, the government can partner with such company and others like that to create maggot farms and waste recycling companies. This would go a long way to remove the nuisance of garbage dump in every nook and cranny of the state.

And since recycling also have ripple effect on employment generation, it would be a win-win situation: Experts would be employed in the recycling agencies to collect, transport, sort and even recycle the wastes.

Also, other agencies or firms that supply them with recycling materials would employ people.
Finally, with a good waste management technique, like recycling, health hazards caused by indiscriminate disposal of waste would be minimized.

While sorting and cleaning of the collected waste may require significant labour, processing the waste materials will require an investment in machines and processing equipment such as hoppers, extruders, aggregators and rollers.

Most of these machines can be fabricated locally or imported. All these can attract foreign direct investments into the country.


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