In Nigeria, by virtue of regulation and control, waste management is in three-folds. There is a federal waste, which includes disarmament and explosive, nuclear, and radioactive, and all mining wastes. State waste encompasses healthcare, excluding the wastes within the federal jurisdiction. Councils across the country are expected to manage all non-hazardous wastes including domestic and small commercial, and institutionally generated wastes.

Shreds of evidence abound that there is a synergy between population growth and quantity of wastes generated in rural and urban areas, especially in developing countries. World Bank has also hinted that the higher the income level and rate of urbanization, the greater the amount of solid waste produced. The world financial institution further adds that the degree of industrialization, public habits, and local climate are also significant factors influencing waste generation increase across the world.

Based on these, solutions have been offered and still being dished out by experts. It should also be pointed out that different companies have emerged with the sole aim of turning wastes into different reusable objects or products and energy. Despite the springing up of these companies every year, the amount of the wastes being generated by industries and households are growing beyond what the companies can manage and convert into useful products. No doubt, economic and environmental benefits of effective and efficient management of the wastes are huge to individuals, businesses, and governments both in neighbourhoods and urban places.

In spite of the benefits, Nigeria is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the collection of solid wastes across the cities, especially metropolitan ones remains practically impossible daily. According to atlas.d-waste, an International agency responsible for mapping of world’s Municipal Solid Wastes, 60%  wastes generated in Nigeria is being collected yearly while 85%, 93%, 82.5% of wastes are being packaged in Ghana, Namibia, and Tunisia respectively. The agency notes further that 27.4 tons of waste are stressing a city in Nigeria per square kilometer whereas Ghana is experiencing its environmental stress of waste per city with 24.7 tons.

Wastes: Where they lie

From urban and rural points, solid wastes are being generated through sources –commercial, industrial, household, agricultural and educational institutions.  Paper, nylon, wood, dust, cloth, metal scraps, electronic gadgets, bottles, food remnants, and vegetables; sawdust, ashes, rubber, bones and plastics are dished out every day from these sources. Some of these wastes are useful for manufacturing, construction, and other industries.

Volumes generate per main cities

Several reports have shown that every Nigeria is generating between 0.43 and 0.58 kg waste per day. This rate quite differs across the cities. In line with our investigation, this is premised on most population increase and rapid urbanization. For instance, in the south-west region of the country, Lagos metropolis generates solid wastes more than Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ile-Ife, Akure among others. With the over 21 million people, Lagos is contributing 13.6 million kilograms per day while people residing in Ibadan are generating 710,000 kilograms. As projected, by 2020, Lagos daily wastes would be 6.3 trillion metric tons based on 0.7% increase rate and 30.2 million population with the expected 21,140 ton per day. People in Ado-Ekiti are contributing the least in the region, with 497,000 kilograms per day. In the northern region, our analysis shows that 1.7 million kilograms of wastes are being produced per day in Abuja based on her current population of 3.1 million. In Ilorin, 0.43 kilogram per person per day would be generated by the year 2020, according to a recent estimate.

Waste Generated per city

Beyond the current statistics, previous reports by environmentalists have shown different levels of wastes generated in the Nigerian cities. In 1994, for instance, it was reported that Kano’s population of 1.4 million resulted into 450 ton of wastes per day. Kaduna, Onitsha, Aba, New Bussa and Uyo were reported to have 4.3m, 386 593, 236 703, 9.5m, and 20, 923 wastes respectively. In 2002, Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, wastes was estimated at 8.5 million tones.  A study conducted on solid waste generation in Port Harcourt in River state, and Warri in Delta state, showed an estimate of 164, 029t/year and 66, 721t/year, accordingly for the same year.

Market potential

For the people who are ready to tap the existing silver, gold, and bronze from the wastes in southern, eastern, northern and western cities in Nigeria, there are three stages in the waste-management value chain. The chain has been dubbed 3Rs –reduce, recycle and reuse. Wastes in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt among others need to be collected, recycled and converted into new products for people’s consumption. Anyone who intends to operate within the reduce stage has the opportunity of picking or gathering wastes for recycling purpose and making sustainable profits. Aspiring entrepreneurs could be communal, block, door-to-door and kerbside collectors in these cities. The profit is sustainable on the fact that people cannot stop generating waste every day, as revealed by our analysis. Recycle stage is being seen as a gold-mine area in advanced countries because businesses or entrepreneurs at this stage are converting waste into other useful materials such as plastic, paper, energy, glass, fertilizer and so on.

Evidence has shown that recycling is one of the fastest growing stages. It has been reported that recycling 10, 000 tons of solid waste creates 36, 000 jobs in collecting, processing and manufacturing of waste. Recycling of plastics can save up to 70 per cent energy; recycling of glass up to 50 per cent energy while recycling of steel can save up to 60 per cent energy. Plastics could be recycled to produce chairs and other useful household items. The last part of the value chain is reuse, which we christened bronze. Majority of the household wastes are within this stage. Food remnants have been found to useful in the production of manure (fertilizer) for food and cash crops. Soft drinks and beverage containers have also been discovered to be valuable in producing parkers, local lamps (atupa).

Nigeria is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa having one waste transfer station. This is situated in Lagos state. Establishment of the station in these cities, especially in the ones with high volumes of wastes per day remains crucial to sustainable waste management. With the average price ($20) of collecting waste, Lagos has the highest market size which stood at $273 million followed by Ile-Ife with $3.4 million.