During the October 3rd Reuters Impact global virtual broadcast, a Nigerian recycler, Ifedolapo Runsewe was featured under a segment on green trailblazers. She is the managing director, of Freetown Waste Management Recycle (FWMR) also known as FREEE Recycle Limited. FWMR is a social enterprise focused on the production of reusable, eco-friendly rubber molded products.
Her company recycles old tires into products for use. The broadcast referred to old tires as Nigeria’s “black gold”. According to the broadcast, Runsewe collects, reworks, and recycles these old tires, that would otherwise litter the streets and cause pollution into products like paving bricks and other goods. The old tires are reworked at an industrial plant owned by Freetown Waste Management Recycle, located in Apata, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Runsewe says; we are creating something new from something that would otherwise be lying somewhere as waste. This was a part of the motivation like what can we be doing with these tires in terms of recycling which is why we started with tires. Most people do not know that the entire component of a tire is valuable in terms of the metal and the fiber. We are now able to create an entire value chain around old and abandoned tyres.”
Freetown Waste Management Recycle relies on scavengers to bring in old abandoned tyres, which are usually lying on roadsides or in refuse dump sites. The scavengers are paid approximately N90 per tyre. According to Reuters Impact, FWMR started operations with four employees and now has 128 employees. The company has expansion and diversification of waste recycling plans. In the future, FWMR will recycle used paper and electronic waste.
Waste management in Nigeria
Nigeria has a large population and the country’s waste output as of Q1 2022, is placed 32 million tonnes every year, according to the Federal Ministry of Environment. Reuters Impact says Nigeria’s waste management is patchy, with residents burning piles of waste at night for lack of safer ways of disposal. Refuse dump sites are common features across various towns and villages. Wate recycling businesses are still in the infancy stages in Nigeria, however, with the growth of our population as well as the emergence of more innovators, the industry is on its way to becoming bigger than it is now.
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What you should know
- The Ibadan-based $5mn facility has recycled over 100,000 tires into speed bumps, floor tiles
- The zig-zag interlocking pavers are one of the company’s best sellers. The product is used in outdoor locations, driveways, playgrounds, and walkways.
- According to FWMR, the company has obtained 300,000 waste tyres and cleared 15,000 drainages of tyre waste.