The smiles and ecstatic laughter, the chatting and the catching up at the LoopLab’s Waste Value Chain Tour, amid the cheering rhythmic and energetic waves of the ocean at Elegushi beach should not be mistaken as an indication of a perfect world, it’s a call for help, a call for more to be done.
This is against the backdrop of the fact that 8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year. To think that the Lagos lagoon is sourly polluted that even the marine life we depend on for food is being impacted.
This is the reason the Waste Value Chain Tour event organised by Circular Lagos’ LoopLab Incubation Initiative in conjunction with other partners on the 25th of June at Elegushi Beach, Lekki Lagos, was not a mere social event, but an event that opened us to new possibilities of a waste-free eco-system.
The event brought together great minds, who have dedicated their efforts, time, resources and knowledge to creating wealth out of what the world sees as waste. This they do with grace, smiles and an unwavering passion.
From Odemwingie Osarode, who, with his huge smile, solved the problem photographers have with harsh lighting with his custom-made light diffuser, made from pringles paperbacks and condemned bulbs; to the energetic Sunday Kolawole Sholanke and Gbenga Olasehinde, who employed their technical skills to create solutions that help people sort and make money off the waste they generate.
We have the energetic crew of RESWAYE (Recycling Scheme for Women And Youth Empowerment), led by Doyinsola Ogunye, who wouldn’t stop raving about what they do. They deserve to be proud. They help communities get rid of waste in the most resourceful and effective ways.
Joshua Attah of Lyvin, is using a stone to kill two birds, he is creating crates for rearing insects from plastic waste, thereby, protecting the environment and these endangered insects from extinction.
Organic Wastes are not off the table. With the efforts of Godswill Ideh and the Alterdross Systems Ltd team, this waste is transformed from a pile of menacing rubbish to electricity and other forms of energy.
Other innovators that graced the event with world transforming ideas are included, Bukola Farinde of Promise Point, Adebayo Babatunde Rasheed of Eco Circular Solutions Provider Ltd, Taiwo Adewole of WasteXchange.
The ingenious team from MitiMeth, create hand-crafted products from water weeds (water hyacinth, typha grass), and other agricultural residues.
Adejoke Lasisi of Planet 3R, a household name in Nigeria’s circular business space, is making sachet water waste reusable and even fashionable, by using them to create stylish fashion accessories.
To other innovators who are making our world circular by creating a value chain around waste management, recycling, upcycling, reusing and other forms of waste to wealth-driven innovation.
Unlike most events, the LoopLab Beach tour event was not put together to create a forum to merely discuss and lament the environmental challenges Lagos and indeed Nigeria are faced with but to bring creative minds together to come up with solutions to the chaotic environmental problems we face as a community.
The LOOPLab event was put together by Circular Lagos, an initiative launched by the Lagos State Government in partnership with the Circular Economy Innovation Partnership (CEIP) and other dedicated partners, including multinational companies, with one goal in mind; to create problem-solving businesses with Circular Economic Principles.
This partnership was instrumental in the creation of the LoopLab Incubation Initiative, an upshot of Circular Lagos Challenge, which seeks to facilitate the creation of green, sustainable businesses, while ensuring mentorship and access to funding for these businesses
These young business owners are slowly and steadily changing the way we think about waste, waste management and our attitude to our environment. They create products and services that maximise the waste value chain.
One reality seems to resonate during my conversation with these young change-makers: “waste is more” in fact, the word waste might become extinct soon. To them, waste is a resource waiting to be employed to create wealth.
These brilliant minds are creating a loop where the linear production model is replaced with an optimised waste value chain where businesses depend on the loop to create products, services and resources while reducing waste generation to its barest minimum.
These Looplabbers, as they fondly call themselves, are leading the way in reengineering the linear cradle-to-grave method of the use of resources to a circular cradle-to-cradle sustainable business model where a company’s waste becomes another business’s production input, thereby maximising the value in the production system.
It’s not enough to give these looplabbers an ovation for their inspiring work. They need more than just words of encouragement, they need more. They need all funds to scale their businesses and structure their operations. They are also in need of mentors and investors who will make doing business in the industry easier.
Some major organisations and multinational companies like Coca-Cola, Nigeria Breweries, the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), and other stakeholders, have been really helpful. However, more socially and environmentally responsible organisations need to come on board.
The government is not left out. The Lagos State Government has done a lot to spearhead the circular economic revolution in Nigeria. The State Government is doing this through partnerships, policy formations and the creation of an enabling environment. The government on all levels needs to take a cue from the efforts and achievements of the Lagos State Government to inspire the circular economic revolution in the country.
The initiation of environmental focused goals as part of the building blocks for the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is not coincidental, it is a testament to the urgency with which the world needs to deal with the obvious environmental challenges, these challenges include, climate change, waste disposal, global warming, ozone layer depletion, oceans acidification, to name a few.
While we see these folks as geniuses, truth be told, there is only so much they can do. The challenge of waste management and environmental protection needs communal efforts to tackle and cannot be left in the hands of a few passionate young individuals who chose to swim against the tide.
Their efforts, faith, passion and will, should be an inspiration to every single person who doesn’t just want to create wealth but wants to leave a thriving world for their unborn children. You can be a part of this revolution. Change begins with you.
If you like to know more about how Circular Lagos is working to create businesses and build change-makers and how you can be a part of the revolution, click here.
Written by: Joshua Oyenigbehin