by ibrahima yakubu
This is a special report that takes a look at how young Nigerian entrepreneurs are converting plant plastic bags and bottles into usable items to save the environment through recycling effort of some individuals.
Abdullahi Tsafe is a young talented entrepreneur in Kaduna state, North western Nigeria, who has succeeded in turning plastic waste into many useful materials in his little company, called “Dadin Kowa.” For over 5 years, the materials have been helping in protecting the environment against burning trash from dumpsites, which usually pollute the society, with dangerous smokes.
Being the only specialist tailor in the state, Abdullahi Tsafe is good in re-designing, branding, packaging and producing large numbers of plant plastic bags in Nigeria for flower business through recycling them. And, indeed, in conveying some parts of his products to be sent to West African countries, he was able to transform much trash into wealth in Nigeria, thereby training other young Nigerians on the various ways of recycling these usable items that are enough to beautify flower containers.
Instead of burning them, cement bags are recycled and remanufactured, redesigned locally, which is extending the life of the resource and creating valuable green manufacturing jobs. Through this, way, many people got jobs from collecting the trash from dumpsites, and this enabled them to have some ways of generating little income for themselves.
Indeed, he was formally one of scavengers popularly known as, “Waste-pickers,” who collect trash and sell same to some businessmen for recycling; but he later found out that there are many ways to make millions of money through recycling plant plastic bags and other materials, which could enable him generate some income and be self-employed.
Abdullahi Tsafe analysed that, “Plastic bags provide an excellent tool for recycled organic waste in the green bin, and through this way, environment is safe from issues related to global warming,” while appealing to all Nigerians, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders to immensely double-up efforts in supporting young entrepreneurs in the country towards creating more recycling companies and enhanced environment, so as to fight poverty, youth unemployment and other environmental factors that are affecting human, animals and aquatics lives.
Plastic plant bags require less energy to produce than hard containers, and there also recyclables that can be used for many purpose.
About 80% of trash in Kaduna dumpsites does usually get burnt due to shortage of recycling companies in the state, and lack of support from government to encourage existence companies is another problem.
The population of the state is about 9 million peoples, and majority of these plastic bags were usually being picked in refuse dumps by some scavengers on the street.
Abdullahi Tsafe said, “Turning these plastics bags, which were being collected from dumpsites and other garbage containers, can help in reducing dirtiness in the community, and this can assist in tackling the outbreak of many diseases, which could affect humans, animals and plants living in the environment,” and stressed that “Plastic waste is one of the main causes for intense soil and water pollution in many of the 36 states of Nigeria.”
The young entrepreneur note that, “One of the important environmental benefits of recycling plastic bags and bottles is that, it saves animals, birds, and a wide range of aquatic creatures from death due to ingestion of plastic. The chemicals in plastic can also pollute the soil as well as water.\
“These plastic bags were created to decorate flowers in the house, office, market, stadium, parks, schools, etc., and the reason for that is to trap moisture (and warmth, to a lesser extent) by turning the bag into a miniature greenhouse, so that it can easily assist in maintaining the soil temperature.
The burning of plastic bags releases chemicals into the air that we all breathe, causing serious lung damage and contributing to other long-term health problems. For people with lung diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, even a single exposure to this type of smoke can worsen their disease. This can result in hospitalization, increased use of expensive medications and absences from school or work.
He also pointed out clearly that “Burning plastic is one of the most serious environmental disasters affecting our health and environment; and our local community has already developed this attitude of burning all the trash without thinking of the consequences and the dangers of burning plastic in the community.”
Furthermore, he says that the local plastics bags he is redesigning is stronger than the normal polyethylene bag, because this type enables air to pass into the root of the plant easily, and that is better use of water and nutrients. “Plastic plant bags cost less to produce (and therefore cost less for you) than plastic or metal pots, or other rigid containers.
“There is need for Nigerians to be recycling all their left over materials, so as to provide for redesigning new products; and we encourage our customers to do the same as well as young children.
“Indeed, the market for flowers business in Nigeria is booming, and the demand for flowers to decorate house and other places is on the increase, but also the shortage of the old plastic bags for recycling is becoming a major problem that is disturbing the plastic plant bags. We have a lot of customers across the 36 states of Nigeria, and we are now beginning to have new customers from our neighboring countries that are also in need of these bags.”
He said “The markets for plastic bags in Nigeria is expanding, and the job is too much for me, as am the only tailor that is redesigning these old bags into another new bag for planting trees. That is why am training some other youth, so that they can be helping me in designing new bags.”
In a research conducted by African Climate Reporters last year, it revealed that Kaduna state government has budgeted 220,505,59.20 million naira on climate change and mitigation projects, while 88,202,237.68 million naira is also being approved on plastic recycling plants, but for lack of such information available to citizens, it becomes difficult in accessing information about the project.
There are many flower companies in Nigeria that are perjuring the product of the entrepreneur. Dr Piman Hoffman, who is director African Climate Reporters, says, “There is need for government and international recycling companies across the globe to come and help in recycling all the trash from refuse dump into useful domestic materials. There are many ways to recycling these trashes and it would be very useful.
Alhaji Ibrahim Salihu is the founder of “Teku International Farm.” He is one of the buyers of plastic bags and uses them in his farm for nursing flowers and little plants. He asserted that “Flower gardening is a lucrative business in Nigeria, which requires little or nothing as startup capital. However, you must have passion for the business, in order to make profit out of it.
“Flower gardening and floral arrangements is a business that has been yielding billions of dollars for smart entrepreneurs in developed countries in Europe, and Nigeria is beginning to wake up to the potential.
“One thing I like about flower gardening business is that, it helps beautify the city. It’s always a beauty to behold whenever you are driving past those beautiful flower gardens by the roadside. So, get into the business today and start enjoying the beauty and the profit.”
He said “The plastic bag is ever-lasting and it’s easy to use it in carrying our products from Kaduna to other places without having any problems.”
Paul Moses is another talented young man in Kaduna that transformed plastic bottles for home construction. Some graphic views are shown above.