MANAGING WASTE AS A RESOURCE: A Tale of Shanghai, China and Lagos, Nigeria

by Suhaib Arogundade

Over the years, there has been an unending debate on utilizing waste as a resource rather than seeing it as a material with no value. To make use of waste as a resource requires a new thinking and shift in mindset from both the generator of waste (individuals, households, offices, and industries) and manager of the waste (usually municipal/state/national governments).

This new thinking will cause all stakeholders (generator and manager of waste) to do what is required and necessary in ensuring that maximum value is obtained from waste.

Shanghai and Lagos have two things in common. One is that they are both the largest city in terms of population in their respective countries and two is the size of the waste that goes to their landfill/dumpsite. Although there is a wide disparity in their population according to the figure from a 2015 publication of United Nations World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision. The publication puts Shanghai’s population as at 2014 to be 22,991,000 and Lagos as 12, 614, 000 while back in 2012, a New York Times publication stated that according to some estimates, Lagos population was 21 million.

We will overlook the disparity in population since that is not the purpose of this article and focus on the waste similarities of both cities in a bid to look at how each city manage/value their waste.

According to worldatlas.com, Laogang landfill in Shanghai, China receives up to 10,000 tons of municipal solid waste daily and this is half of the city’s total waste (according to the Shanghai Municipal Government). This waste is piled 20 meters high and the methane gas from the landfill is being converted to annually generate 102,189 MW-hours of green energy to power 100,000 homes.

Considering the same scenario at Olusosun landfill in Lagos, Nigeria, Olusosun receives up to 10,000 tons of garbage per day according to exploredia.com and there is no record of green energy generation from the landfill powering any homes, industries, or government parastatal. Waste in Olusosun is said to be piled 18 meters high according to a joint publication by Lagos Waste Management Authority and Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project. While the generation of green energy is dependent on the type of waste a landfill receives, the same publication stated that there is a plan by the State Government to capture landfill gas at Olusosun as an overall strategy for the Lagos State Solid Waste Management Plan. Therefore, the argument that the waste at Olusosun cannot generate power has been ruled out. Also, to affirm this position, the recent fire outbreak (in March 2018) at the landfill justifies the fact that there are gases trapped in Olusosun which can be captured for power generation.

In conclusion, the government of Lagos State is urged to quicken the gas capturing project at Olusosun in order to avert further human and economic damage which the landfill gas has already started causing as well as not squander this important free resource that can be utilized for domestic and industrial gains.

Author: Suhaib Arogundade

Suhaib Arogundade is an enthusiastic young professional who has interest in commodity trading, mindset redesigning, and waste management research.

Suhaib is the Chief Waste Eliminator at WasteWatch Africa.

3 thoughts on “MANAGING WASTE AS A RESOURCE: A Tale of Shanghai, China and Lagos, Nigeria

  1. A very good research work there. If olusosun alone can produce gases that be used in many homes, how much more of other landfills containing both renewable and biodegradable waste like animal dungs and plants husks.

    • Thanks Saoban for your kind words. Absolutely! Our dumpsites are valuable resources in disguise which we are neglecting. At WasteWatch Africa, we will continue to shed more light on the hidden value/benefit in waste as a way to contributing to the positive utilisation of this resource.

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