…Partnership extends Dow’s global commitment to advance circular economy for plastics, reduce plastic waste, pollution in West Africa
…Project to recycle 300m sachets
…Dow, Empower working in Nigeria plastics crowdsource since 2020, with over 8,000 subscribers to date
…Nigeria among world’s top 20 contributors to marine debris
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Dow, global materials science company and Empower, a Norwegian circular platform company which uses blockchain technology to track plastics waste, in collaboration with Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD) have announced a new study which will examine the feasibility of advancing fully circular value chains in Nigeria, to help close the loop on plastics waste.
The study, which will be part funded by NORAD, will focus on the implementation of a scalable digital waste collection and recycling business model in Lagos. The findings will inform the long-term ambition of the partnership which is to digitize the local collection points, recyclers, and waste streams, to ensure transparency and reliability of the process of tracking recyclable plastics waste and converting it into new sustainable packaging.
Nigeria, said Afrik21, generates some 32 million tonnes of waste per year, of which 2.5 million tonnes is plastic waste. The country’s disposal, recycling and waste management system is very inefficient, dealing with both plastic and non-plastic waste, 70 per cent end up in landfills, sewers, beaches and water bodies. More than 130,000 tonnes of plastic end up in Nigeria’s water bodies every year; the country is estimated to be among the top 20 countries around the world contributing to marine debris. As these products seem locally “unrecyclable,” they constitute larger fractions of plastic waste found and left on dumpsites.
The Dow – Empower project will examine the entire value chain to ensure sustainable plastics sourcing is commercially viable across all areas. The businesses will also explore the potential to crowdsource and digitally track waste collection in order to create significant and reliable streams of raw material feedstock which will meet the needs of buyers.
Empower digital platform – uses blockchain technology to ensure the seamless tracking and monetization of plastics waste – provides cost-efficient collection of plastics waste, sorting at source, and local job creation both for waste pickers in the community and in waste management facilities. The study will identify opportunities to further incentivize the expansion of decentralized sustainable waste management systems, that is communities managing collection, segregation and processing their waste locally, in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Dow and Empower have been working together in Nigeria since 2020 to map and crowdsource the collection and sorting of plastic water sachets, which is a significant environmental problem across West Africa. The findings of the new study will assist in scaling up Project ReflexNG – a water sachet recycling program Dow launched in Nigeria last year in partnership with Omnik, Incentive based collection partners and the Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre, specifically.
The project aims to recycle over 300 million sachets, which would otherwise end up in the environment or landfill, into new applications. To date, the program has provided an additional source of income for over 8,000 subscribers to the program’s phone app which enables the coordination of collection and sorting of plastics waste around the city, over 200 waste pickers and has recovered almost 600 MT of plastic waste in total.
According to Adowa Coleman, Africa Sustainability and Advocacy Manager at Dow “achieving full circularity for plastics, that is, where the practical benefits are matched by its environmental performance, takes each part of the value chain working as a collective, and research, such as this new study, which helps us to further assess the feasibility and traceability of plastics waste is invaluable in helping us to advance our efforts.
“That’s why we are excited to partner with digital innovators like Empower to explore new, efficient ways to equip our value chain, partners, and customers so we can advance a circular economy for plastics in Nigeria and the wider continent of Africa.”
Wilhelm Myrer, CEO and Founder of Empower, explains that: “Our ultimate aim is to create a disruptive and circular global plastic waste ecosystem that enables a cost-efficient and reliable sourcing of recycled plastics, with fully-traceable materials, to create reliable streams of higher value plastic for the private sector while creating jobs for people that need it the most.”
Myrer said the project is aligned to Dow’s global ‘Stop The Waste sustainability target which will enable the collection, reuse or recycling of one million metric tons of plastic globally by 2030.
Dow, a New York Stock Exchange register company (NYSE: DOW) combines global breadth, asset integration and scale, focused innovation and leading business positions to achieve profitable growth. The Company’s ambition is to become the most innovative, customer centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company, with a purpose to deliver a sustainable future for the world through our materials science expertise and collaboration with our partners.
Empower, a Norwegian circular platform company, uses digitisation, cloud-data and blockchain technology to store and facilitate seamless sharing of information about plastic waste and map waste flows to ensure that the plastic ends up where it has the highest value and the lowest cost to society. An alumnus of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and Plug and Play innovation platform which provides accelerator programs for highest-potential startups tackling plastic waste, its mission is to ensure that all materials have a value and can be tracked from production, to new resources and back into new sustainable products again, with a vision to close the tap on plastic waste and recreate a world without waste.
On its part, NORAD, part sponsor of the Nigerian circularity plastics feasibility survey, does the quality-assurance of Norwegian Development Cooperation. The Agency is a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In matters regarding Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), NORAD reports to the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment.