Waste to Wealth: How Nigeria Can Venture into a Circular Economy

The global population and consumption keep increasing while humanity continues to use finite natural resources at a high rate. This problem affects all countries worldwide, compelling us to adopt a circular economy that facilitates the utmost maximization of resources and goods, repurposing these goods and resources over an extended period. In a developing country like Nigeria, venturing into a circular economy maximizes the usage of resources and improves the country’s economic situation. According to Bioenergy Consulting, Nigeria generates about 32 million tonnes of waste per year, with only 30% being collected for disposal or recycling. With 201 million people on the rise and rapid urbanization, the annual production of waste will increase exponentially. To mitigate the damage and turn the increase in waste production into an economic advantage, Nigeria can create and implement these specific initiatives.

Build a better waste management system

The first step towards successfully venturing into a circular economy is to ensure that all municipalities and regions have efficient waste management systems.

  • The waste management system in Nigeria lacks proper systemic operations and structure.
  • Only two waste management corporations are worthy of note: Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) and OYOWMA (Oyo State Solid Waste Management Authority). Compared to the absence of ground waste management agencies in other states, these corporations appear proactive in managing the waste generated in these regions.
  • Yet, dumping sites, open burning, and random dumping are prevalent in these states as the lack of adequate funds hinders the agencies from accessing all the towns and regions in their target states.
  • Thus, the Nigerian government must actively collaborate with state governments and private bodies (if necessary) to engineer waste systems that can provide platforms to gather waste that can be repurposed as resources.

Promote a recycling culture

Recycling is a crucial process in the circular economy. Once proper waste management systems are available, stakeholders can actively promote a recycling culture.

  • This endeavour will involve mass sensitization to educate the public on repurposing waste such as solid waste and e-waste (from digital devices).
  • Stakeholders can involve traditional rulers and influencers to reinforce the practice of recycling by leveraging the socio-cultural significance of these individuals.
  • Additionally, the government can provide cash rewards and discounts to incentivize the public to accept recycling.

Enact and implement policies that support the processes of circular economies

Circular economies can only flourish when there are policies and regulations to facilitate their operations.

  • According to the EU, countries interested in circular economies must allow their citizens access to the right to repair. This right to repair encompasses a significant guarantee period and repair possibilities.
  • The government can also issue regulations that demand the standard of durability from manufacturers, thereby increasing the shelf life of goods.
  • Planned obsolescence, which condemns products after a certain duration of usage, must also be minimized by promoting the production and availability of spare parts.

Support innovation that can advance the circular economy

With innovative technological advancements, venturing into a circular economy could be difficult. Hence, the government must willingly sponsor innovative technology that serves this purpose.

  • The government can award grants to academics and researchers in the country to conduct research and develop these devices that can ease its entry into the circular economy.
  • The government can also establish composting and recycling plants that will help with repurposing waste.
  • Moreover, the government can establish a parastatal or national agency that oversees the entry into the circular economy and the processes of collection, recycling, and reuse of waste in the country.

The initiatives highlighted above are viable strategies that developing countries can utilize to maximize resources and reduce waste. Yet, Nigeria must adopt these strategies with meticulous execution and transparency to use the resources available. After all, a circular economy in Nigeria reduces unemployment by creating a new industry and solves problems like the country’s inadequate power supply.

Final thoughts

As Nigeria commences intense industrialization, it will rely heavily on its vast limestone, iron ore, lead, coal, oil and gas, and renewables. This commencement of the country’s industrialization calls for a national consciousness of repurposing waste to maximize its natural resources and create a sustainable future. To achieve this, the government must create a better waste management system, promote a culture of recycling, enact policies that support proper waste management, and support the creation of innovative technology that facilitates the use of resources to support its rising population.

Can be reached via email — 01prashanth@gmail.com or a private message on LinkedIn if you would like to discuss this topic further.

You can also visit my Blog for other articles: www.financepsyche.com.

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Prashanth P

Prashanth P

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