Special Report

We will be featuring industry reports from African countries, company, industry, and individuals. If you have a publication or story you would like us to publish on our “Special Report” page, kindly send us an email at wwa@wastewatchafrica.com


Nigeria being the largest country in Africa in terms of population which stands at 182 million according to the United Nations publication titled “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables” is also the biggest economy in Africa according to International Monetary Fund.

Hence, little wonder that the country is also home to six (6) of the biggest dumpsites in Africa according to Waste Atlas 2014 report on World’s 50 Biggest Dumpsites published by D-Waste.

These dumpsites are domiciled in three most important cities in Nigeria namely Lagos (the commercial hub of Nigeria), Port Harcourt (the commercial hub of South-South, Nigeria) and Ibadan (the third most populous city in Nigeria). Let’s explore the dumpsites.

  1. Olusosun: It is the largest dumpsite not only in Lagos but in Nigeria and receives about 2.1 million tonnes of waste annually comprising mostly of municipal solid waste (MSW), construction waste, and electronic waste (e-waste). The dumpsite covers an area of about 43 hectares and it is 18 meters deep1. The dumpsite has been in existence since 1992 and has housed about 24.5 million tonnes of waste since then. A population of about 5 million people lives around 10km radius from the site and numerous health problems like skin irritation, dysentery, water-related disease, nauseous feeling, etcetera have been reported by residents living around 3km radius from the site.


  1. Solous 2: It is located in Lagos and occupies around 8 hectares of land along Lasu-Iba road. The dumpsite receives about 820,000 tonnes of waste annually and has since its existence in 2006 accepted around 5.8 million tonnes of MSW. Solous is just 200 meters away from the nearest dwellings and almost 4 million people live within 10km radius from the site. Due to the vulnerable sand formation of the area, leachate produced at the dumpsite flows into groundwater causing its contamination.


  1. Epe: Epe dumpsite also in Lagos occupies about 80 hectares of land. The dumpsite was opened in 2010 and has an annual input of 12,000 tonnes of MSW. Epe is the dumpsite which the Lagos State government is planning to upgrade to an engineered landfill and set to replace Olusosun dumpsite after its closure. Since its existence, it has received about 47,000 tonnes of waste and it is just 500 meters away from the nearest settlement. The dumpsite is also just 2km away from Osogbo River and 7km away from Lekki Lagoon.


  1. Awotan (Apete): The dumpsite is located in Ibadan and has been in existence since 1998 receiving 36,000 tonnes of MSW annually. It covers an area of 14 hectares and already has in place almost 525,000 tonnes of waste. The dumpsite is close to Eleyele Lake (2.5km away) and IITA Forest Reserve (4.5km away). The nearest settlement to the dumpsite is just 200 meters away and groundwater contamination has been reported at residents wells.


  1. Lapite: Lapite dumpsite also located in Ibadan occupies an area of 20 hectares receiving around 9,000 tonnes of MSW yearly. Since its existence in 1998, it has housed almost 137,000 tonnes of MSW. It is 9km away from IITA Forest Reserve and surrounded by vegetations on both sides of the road since the dumpsite is directly opposite a major road. The nearest settlement is about 2km away but due to the heavy metals present in the leachate produced in the dumpsite, its leakage poses a great threat to groundwater and biodiversity in the area.


  1. Eneka: It is located in Port Harcourt, the commercial hub of South-South, Nigeria along Igwuruta/Eneka road and 9km from Okpoka River and Otamiri River. It receives around 45,600 tonnes of MSW annually and already has about 12 million tonnes of waste in place. The site lies in an area of 5 hectares and it is flooded almost all year round as rainfall in the area exceeds 2,500mm per annum. Due to this and the resultant flow of the flood which would have mixed with dumpsite leachate; groundwater, surface water, and soil contamination affect the 1.2 million people living around 10km radius from the site as the nearest building is just 200 meters away.

If you live in a location close to any of the listed dumpsites or the ones in your area which is not listed, you will be doing yourself, neighbours, and the environment a great favour by reaching out to the authorities in charge of waste management in your State to quickly do something about the negative impact of these waste as stated above.


1 Resettlement Action Plan for Waste Pickers on Olushosun Dumpsite by The Resettlement Planning Committee, Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP) and Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).



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.




It is no news that waste management is a serious problem in Nigeria and some Nigerian cities have been regarded as some of the dirtiest and polluted in the world according to several surveys and research done in the past. This was also echoed by Forbes in its list of dirtiest cities in the world and the World Health Organisation database of most polluted cities in the world. Past and present governments at the State level have been trying to find solutions to waste problem but the result is not encouraging.

In this week’s edition of our special report, we will be looking at the policies and efforts of government in recent and time past to curb the waste problem.

Oyo State as a Case Study

Taking Oyo State Government efforts as a case study; in the past in Ibadan – the Oyo State capital, is synonymous with dirt but the emergence of the present administration has changed that story. The government has taken some drastic decisions to make the city clean. In a city with a large population like Ibadan (last known population is 3,160,200 according to Population City), a larger amount of waste is expected compared to smaller cities and a standard waste management practice should be in place to meet up to the large population.

Governor Ajimobi Efforts in Tackling Waste in Ibadan

Since his election into office in 2011, Governor Ajimobi has tried to change the dirty nature of the State by purchasing waste trucks and waste bins for the Oyo State Waste Management Agency (OYOWMA) to collect waste around the State. The waste bins are put in strategic public places in the State such as market, places with a history of poor waste disposal, etc. In other to complement the work of the OYOWMA, private waste collectors were introduced in 2013 to collect waste from private buildings. Public roads were not neglected as the government employed Road Sweepers to clean the highways.

A compulsory weekly environmental sanitation exercise was also introduced to be done every Thursday for two (2) hours (8:00 am to 10:00 am), which is different from the federal government monthly environmental sanitation exercise to encourage good environmental sanitation habit. Both the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and OYOWMA have been engaging in the enlightenment of the public on environmental sanitation through radio and TV programs and public campaigns in collaboration with corporate organizations. According to the Oyo State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Chief Isaac Ishola, 1,342 environmental law offenders were arrested and convicted in 2017 across the State.

Much Effort Put in, but Expected Result did not Surface

In his recommitment to a clean State, the government has announced that every house must have a waste bin. However, despite all the measures put in place to effectively manage waste in the state, it seems the efforts put in are not yielding much results. As a result of this, the government terminated its contract with the private waste collector in May 2017 claiming their operations were not efficient and effective despite getting paid by the public. OYOWMA took over the duty of the private waste collectors and WestAfricaENRG was given the contract to manage the agency. Despite this restructuring, Ibadan is still not clean as expected but no longer in the black book of the dirtiest city in Nigeria.

The government needs to do more!!!

The government needs to do more than this to have a clean State. The government needs to start the aggressive enforcement, yes aggressive!!!, of the enacted laws and arresting and prosecution of offenders should follow. A possible prosecution can be sentencing offenders to certain hours of community service. If required, the government should make more laws pertaining to waste management in consultation with relevant stakeholders as well as putting the peculiar nature of the State into consideration. Environmental sanitation awareness and campaigns should be taken to markets, motor parks and grassroots’ informing the people of the consequences of violating environmental law. Every facility that generates waste be it residential or commercial building must have a standard waste bin and some couple of stalls in markets should share a waste bin.

A Need to Change Waste Collection Technique

Dumping of waste in public places and on public roads should be discouraged and a better waste collection technique should be designed. I personally see this technique of waste collection as inadequate. Taking festive period as an instance, huge waste is left for days on road medians and public places waiting for the waste collectors to cart them away and this makes the city look dirty. The waste bin overflow is another issue; the citizen won’t stop dumping waste once the bin is filled and the agency too always tarry to dispose the waste.

According to a popular saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, the government need to re-evaluate its effort towards waste management so as to find a lasting solution to the waste problem in our States. Waste problem is a menace to our society which needs to be dealt-with with serious attention. A dirty State will not attract investors and the State will always have a bad reputation; which is bad for development.

A clean State is a healthy State!




While waste management is a salient service every society and city requires, its financing can be pretty overwhelming for the city government especially if the government see it as a critical part of the service they should render to the citizen and if the citizen also hold it as a basis for measuring the performance of the government and using it as one of the conditions for re-election.

Waste management entails different aspect. Generally speaking, we have; pre-collection, collection, transportation, storage, treatment, and disposal. Technically, the aspect is captured by what is called hierarchy of waste management and it includes; prevention, minimization, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and disposal. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the general aspect classification as it lays bare the activities which need financing.

Waste Management Hierarchy (Adapted from USEPA website)


All these aspects require proper funding in rendering a good waste management service to the society. As citizens, hardly are any deep thought given to the different aspect and what it takes to ensure it is carried out efficiently and effectively. Let’s briefly describe the aspects to provide background knowledge before diving into the financing options that can be adopted.

  • Pre-collection: This is when the waste has just been generated in households, offices, industries, etc and waiting for collection by the waste management service provider. This waste needs to be kept in good condition for easy pick-up by the service provider, hence, it needs to be stored in a container or sack or any material that can ensure it does not cause a nuisance. This container, sack, etc. has a cost and it is factored into the financing of waste management.


  • Collection: This is the carting away of waste from the generated site which can be done using different means depending on the locality, terrain, sophistication, customer to be served, etcetera. Generally, the collection of waste is by the use of mini-trucks or compactor trucks.


  • Transportation: It comes naturally with the collection of waste. It is the movement of the waste from the point of generation to the storage or final disposal site. Transportation and collection are part of the aspects which requires tons of money to run.


  • Storage: This is where the waste is kept within a city before being transferred to the final disposal site. It also serves as a treatment center for the waste.


  • Treatment: It involves the sorting of waste for recyclables, extraction of biodegradables for fertilizer production, and treatment of toxic waste before disposing-off at the landfill. The treatment center is sometimes called a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) which can be a Clean MRF (for recyclables only) or Dirty MRF (for all types of waste sometimes co-mingled or otherwise). The treatment of waste could also be incineration.


  • Disposal: This is the final resting place for all waste and it usually occupies a large expanse of land and away from the city center due to numerous reasons. If designed and constructed properly, it is called an Engineered Landfill. Although, in most part of Africa, what we have are dumpsites termed as “landfills”. A well designed and constructed landfill requires huge financing for the construction, operation, and maintenance.


Financing Options for Waste Management

Having highlighted the purpose and functions of the different aspect of waste management, let’s now look at how this service can be properly funded to achieve an utmost result.

There are four different finance options that can be adopted for waste management and the option chosen will be dependent on various factors. The chief of the factors will be “what is the end goal of providing waste management service to citizen” and this is to be determined by the city government. Therefore, we say finance option is directly related to waste management goal of a city or State.

Option 1 – Public Financing: This primarily is the funding of waste management service entirely by the government through budgetary allocation. The government determines how it will generate the cash for service and this can be through taxation or redistribution of funds generated from other sources like sales of city natural resources or combination of various sources of funds.  This is generally inefficient due to the iniquities of government and lack of proper management capabilities in most instances. The government might decide to charge a service fee or not.

Option 2 – Private Financing: This involves infusing funds from the private sector into waste management service and also seeing to the day to day running of the service. However, the private sector will charge a service fee which will be determined by calculating the amount of invested funds, operating cost, and profit envisaged. This will be spread over a period of time. This financing option can deliver optimal result in providing waste management service but the private sector needs to be checked in order not to set a high fee that will end up scaring citizen which might lead to citizen abhorring the service.

Option 3 – Public Private Partnership (PPP): This is a special type of arrangement which brings together the government and private sector in providing funds and management capabilities for the delivery of waste management service. All things being equal, this arrangement is best because the government will be able to regulate and have a say in how the service should be delivered especially as it relates to the setting of service fees which might be difficult in the solely private financing option. The PPP can equally be extended to be a Joint Venture (usually termed as Institutional PPP).

Option 4 – Donors and Grants: This funding mechanism is dependent on the interest of the donor organization. While it is a good way to develop a city’s waste management infrastructure, attracting and utilizing grants is solely reliant on what the donor considers as important. Hence, it might be difficult for a city government to dictate how the funds should be distributed among the various aspect of waste management. However, this type of financing can be combined with a PPP arrangement to cater for a specific waste management aspect that is in tandem with the interest of the donor and can be part of the city government contribution to the PPP.

In conclusion, waste management financing is quite dynamic just like many other services and infrastructure provided by a city government and the best option for financing the provision of waste management service can only be made after appropriate due diligence and consultation with relevant stakeholders has been made and observed.


  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Available online: https://www.epa.gov/smm/sustainable-materials-management-non-hazardous-materials-and-waste-management-hierarchy. (accessed on 4 April 2018).




Last week Wednesday, 28 March 2018, environmental stakeholders and waste management enthusiast were guided on the Epe Ecopark facility tour by Visionscape (an environmental utility group managing waste in Lagos State).

Visionscape, a company contracted by the Lagos State Government to manage residential waste in the State and to build an engineered landfill which is to be situated in Epe, Lagos decided to take stakeholders on the tour of the Epe landfill. The company mentioned that the landfill is on course to attaining the “engineered landfill” status even though stakeholders present at the tour think otherwise.

WasteWatch Africa was opportune to obtain photographs and mini-video of the guided “Ecopark” landfill tour and same are shown below.

Entrance of the Ecopark Landfill

Weighbridge at the Ecopark Landfill entrance

Another view of the Ecopark Landfill entrance

Road leading to the Ecopark Landfill area

Visionscape truck taking waste to the Ecopark Landfill area

Section of the Ecopark Landfill with recyclables already sorted by informal waste operators (also known as scavengers).

Another section of the Ecopark Landfill showing a compactor caterpillar used to compact waste at the landfill.

Waste already sorted by informal waste operators

A truck being loaded with sorted waste by different informal waste operators. The Epe Ecocpark Landfill is said to have about 350 registered informal waste operators

Some environmental stakeholders at the Epe Ecopark Landfill

The mini-videos will be uploaded shortly.

Stakeholders at the tour believe a lot of work still has to be done on the Ecopark Landfill in bringing it to the status of an engineered landfill. Hence, WasteWatch Africa is using this medium to call on the managers of the landfill and the State Government to expedite the process in order to avoid a repeat of the Olusosun Landfill case.

Also, we urge citizens to embrace recycling initiatives across the State so as to reduce the waste being sent to landfills in the State. This will assist in saving lands for more useful developmental infrastructures which will bring about the prosperity of residents of the State.



Brief Outlook on Urban Waste Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

According to a report published in the Urban Development Series Knowledge Paper, waste management data are lacking in Sub-Saharan Africa and even at that, the same report mentioned that in this region, urban waste generation alone is expected to be 441,840 tons/day by 2025.

Out of this waste that will be generated, if we go by the Global Waste Outlook report of 2015 that states that lower-middle income countries generate 53% organic waste, 11% paper waste, and 9% plastic waste; then we will have 234,175.2 tons/day of organic waste, 48,602.4 tons/day paper waste, and 39,765.6 tons/day plastic waste. It should be noted that the waste generation might surpass this since data is lacking during the estimate but cannot be less.

Clearly, you can see where innovative solutions and applications are urgently needed and required as well as a genuine reason to embark on data and information research and reporting for the waste industry in Africa.

We maintain at WasteWatch Africa (WWA) that waste management data and information is critical and vital to the development of the waste industry in Africa. Hence, our relentless effort in ensuring that against all odds, we provide these very important value to the great people of Africa so as to heighten awareness and spur business formations in the waste industry.

If you would like WWA to execute any waste management related work or project for you or your organisation, kindly do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

You can see the list of the service we render here

– Suhaib Arogundade
For: WasteWatch Africa




Producers have a very big role to play in the management of the waste associated with the use of their products as well as the end of the useful life of their products. This is what informed the adoption of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as a policy tool of government in waste management. Under EPR, producers are supposed to initiate and fund Product Stewardship Programmes (PSPs). Now, the question is what is a Product Stewardship Programme? This is a programme that encompasses product design to ensure for source reduction and reuse, as well as the collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal of unwanted items or waste of a producer’s product. In a layman’s term, it simply means designing a product by incorporating an associated product waste recovery strategy. It also suffices to say that consumers have an active role to play in the whole process.

An important aspect of the new vision for environmentally sound waste management in Nigeria is the recognition of the fact that producers have a vital responsibility in the recovery and management of the waste created during their products lifecycle. Talking about Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs), we hardly talk about end of useful life of the products. We focus majorly on the consumables and neglect the packaging materials which form bulk of the end of life cycle of these products. The whole idea of the new vision for waste management in Nigeria is about the development of an efficient closed-loop system where resources are continually recycled so that wastage is avoided. This ultimately leads to the creation of value that culminates in the socio-economic empowerment of the society.

The social charter of the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) emphasizes the importance of effective private sector participation in waste management. By this, we imply that every stakeholder in the product value chain prior to the consumer has a role to play. In this arrangement, producers and the supply value chain are meant to accept responsibility for their products and its associated waste. This encourages producers to design and manufacture better quality products with long life span that can be reused or recycled and which do not present significant waste management problems at the products end of useful life.

Recycling is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. The only challenge is the scale at which it is done. Only a small fraction of recyclable waste generated within the shores of Nigeria find their way to the recycling industry. Even as it is, no accurate data on waste generation is presently available which on its own is a problem. Let me use this opportunity to say categorically, that the availability of accurate data in planning waste management solutions can never be overemphasized. Meanwhile, the recycling that is done in Nigeria presently is largely by the informal sector. This is constituted of individuals that lack the educational background and skill-sets to take the industry to the next level. It is no longer news that we have to conserve our natural resources in other to enable us build a sustainable future. This philosophy is predicated on the theory of a circular economy which in actual sense is a reality. This, simply put, is “harnessing waste for enterprise”.  However, before we can talk about harnessing waste for productive ventures or what is called resource recovery, we must establish an efficient mechanism for diverting  solid wastes to the recycling industry particularly, the packaging waste of FCMGs.

Lagos State Government is the only state government in Nigeria known to me that has at any time implemented an intervention or what is known as buy-back of recyclable waste in other to help mop them up for the recycling industry. Other incentive-based recycling enterprises have since taken the initiative. These enterprises award points redeemable as pay-vouchers on certain shopping platforms. Some notable incentive based recyclers are Wecyclers, Recyclepoints, Chanja Datti, etc. The primary recyclables exchanged for points or money in the various buy-back programmes are PET bottles, Pure Water Sachets (PWS), Aluminum Beverage Cans, Corrugated Cardboard Boxes, etc.

Sample of Aluminum Can

100cl PET Bottle

A Carton of Indomie         SuperPack

Image Credit: Google Images

These materials are usually exchanged within the ranges of 10 – 40 Nigerian Naira per kilogram. These programmes have been successful at various levels. However, from my observation, I think that scavengers have been the major participants and beneficiaries. These scavengers navigate through neighborhoods with their sacks, rummaging through the garbage receptacles of residents, fishing for recyclable wastes they can exchange for money, when they must have gathered a significant quantity. Not surprising, most middle class families do not have the incentive to recycle when they think they must have to collect up to a kilogram to participate. Hence, they just trash for these scavengers to collect. Prorating the few numbers recovered will give an inconsequential value currency-wise (Naira and Kobo as it is the case of Nigeria currency), therefore, making for apathy amongst the middle-class to recycle. From a study I conducted, a 100cl PET bottle weighs 40gram; one carton of indomie super pack equals 218gram; one aluminum can is 15gram. Let us take for example PET Bottles – if a 100cl PET Bottle weighs 40gram, it will take 25 bottles to make a kilogram. If a kilogram is exchanged at 40 Naira, it implies that one bottle exchanges for 1.60 Naira. This value will definitely sound too poor to motivate an average middle-class family to recycle.

The point system introduced by incentive-based recyclers like Recyclepoints, have helped to encourage families to recycle, irrespective of the quantity of recyclable wastes they generate in their homes. This they do by awarding points per unit of recyclable waste recycled. These points are redeemable as vouchers in retail shopping outlets that are partners to the various incentive-based recyclers. However, one challenge that incentive-based recyclers are likely to have is that some individuals may want to know what recycling a particular unit of a recyclable product packaging is worth in Naira and Kobo on face value instead of points that may mask the inconsequential valuation.

It is my conviction that producers can help to solve this challenge of low valuation of their recyclable product packaging materials under their company’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligations. In a previous article I wrote captioned: INTERSECTION POINT OF PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY (EPR) IN NIGERIA – INTRODUCING PRODUCT STEWARDSHIP BONUS (PSB), I recommended PSB as a policy tool, which producers can use to galvanize our society to recycle.

In a nutshell, the PSB is a tax on consumption that is refunded to consumers when they return a unit of producer’s product packaging to the producer. For instance, I do not think it is a big deal for a consumer to pay 110 Naira for a bottle of water he should have bought for 100 save for the consumption tax of 10 Naira that would be refunded as PSB when the consumer returns the empty bottle to the producer. For more on PSB, please read the article – INTERSECTION POINT OF PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY (EPR) IN NIGERIA – INTRODUCING PRODUCT STEWARDSHIP BONUS (scroll down to read this article)

Author: Maduka Ernest-Ngozichukwu, an Environmental Consultant/Sustainability Entrepreneur. He is the Author of the book “RESCUING NIGERIA FROM THE MENACE OF PLASTIC FILM WASTE” and writes from Aba. Contact: +2348069667595 Email: maduka78@yahoo.com

Op-Ed: The views expressed in this article are the sole opinion of the writer.




Between miles of breathtaking wilderness, nature, and beauty in Uganda, you will find pockets of trash dumped in the same environment. Many times trash is dumped in hidden areas, but all too often local people place their garbage in public areas. This is not only done in Uganda, but in the majority of the world. I have photographed over 11 places with waste in Uganda and what happens in areas of Africa, happens in the Americas, Asia and beyond. This report is not necessarily about Uganda, it’s about our Earth. You can reference my other work from all over the world and it’s the same problem; how can waste be handled like it is in developed nations? Not only because more devoted countries in this interest and field have been successful at it, but because the world plays a role in its existing problem. We make and transport non-biodegradable materials to all sections of the world that can not handle their waste intake properly. Yet it does not concern richer societies because they have the means of recycling their own waste to a near complete recyclable lifespan and do not need to think about the products shipped out to those other countries that can’t handle waste circularly. This is why waste is a global responsibility. We must take interest to help not only ourselves but our neighbors as well. Especially when so much profit is being made from the products sold, that money could be invested back into the full circularity of materials.


When I saw the women scraping off each label of every bottle that came into the Kampala dumpsite in Uganda, I was reminded about the thousands of bottles that pass through there each day and how each bottle is hand-picked and the label is manually ripped off. There is something so commendable about those who classify waste. That is why I photograph informal recyclers and not the waste-makers. Waste-makers are every single one of us in the entire world, but informal recyclers are a much smaller group, around 60 million, who correct what they can on the later lifecycle of waste. Many informal recyclers are shameful of what they do. I’d rather place a spotlight on them and bring more awareness to the public so people know who to feel grateful for in the harsh service of recycling. But it doesn’t end with gratitude for someone else’s work, now we need to come together globally for a healthier solution.

Home run adjacent to Kampala Dumpsite

History has left us impressive fossils, the pyramids, unexplainable ancient artifacts/cities, priceless art and so much more. These are all things constructed with natural materials; stones, natural dyes, rocks, clay, etc. But what are the fossils of ourselves now? Is it plastic straws, syringes, medical waste, cell phones with no data, digital archives that cannot be seen, mountains and many miles of synthetic junk? After humanity, there will be no digital footprint. We might only have synthetic materials and a carbon footprint left over

MBARARA (Informal dumpsite on high hill)


I made a friend who is a passionate waste management enthusiast named Taremwa Sam Rwabwehare. He created UWMAC (Uganda Waste Management & Administration Confederation). I visited him in Uganda for two weeks to investigate what Uganda was doing about its waste. During my time with him, I noticed Sam as a person who was genuinely upset and concerned with preserving the nature and its pristine beauty in his country. His sisters also work in a similar field; the younger works in fuel effciency projects for the Ministry of Energy and the older sister is a Women Welfare, HIV Control and Prevention Expert for UN Women. Sam took me to his home. It was a far and tucked away paradise in a poor area in the hills. Nature there was proudly green with picture-postcard mountains for their backdrop. I could quickly see why they all had a passion to preserve such beauty.

His mother introduced me to a women’s group that she started who gather every week to plan and discuss how they can work together to help their children and community. They create budgets and a plan to put each of their children into schools and how to repair or build towards their livelihoods and local community in the most basic ways. They do this through their own hard work and the money they earn. then later share with one another to complete the latest project. The result for her particular family is her five children all graduating in a field they love, their house has small solar paneling for energy, they were able to upgrade their home with basic construction and they have a large farm for their own vegetation. You can clearly see the results of their planning through the success of their children and their home which is a little more developed than many others in the area.

MBARARA (Informal dumpsite in market area)

Taremwa Sam Rwabwehare holds hands with an informal recycler as they lead one another through the trash to talk about the worker’s life, his work and the area. Mbarara.

Group of workers from Mbarara. Some recycle trash and others recycle tires into sandals.




 L: Sam interviews and consoles a crying woman in the Masaka dumpsite. R: A woman puts her baby to rest after breastfeeding in Masaka dumpsite.

Sam’s intention with his work is to expose the way waste is really being handled in Uganda. Not in order to exploit or hurt anyone’s intention in the matter, but to have an open discussion on what is really happening. For example, many places that are more organized in their trash collection all call their facilities landfills. But we clearly see that what is there has no lining and the trash seeps into the ground even if they perform efforts to capture the leachate. So what we really are talking about is a dumpsite and at most a managed or controlled dumpsite. Sam confronts such issues because we will not succeed if we continue living in what is not really happening. Of course, it is realized that a lack of funding or maybe even corruption may play a part in the expansion and success of waste management for a circular form in Uganda. But this is also true everywhere in the world. Therefore, the mission is not just global and environmental, but it is political as well. Sam is interested in creating a roadmap of Uganda, eventually East Africa and possibly one day all of Africa; so that people can have a reference and a better understanding of how waste can improve through real solid cases with other projects that has had repeated followups. Saying that; building bridges between these roads on this map will not be easy, is an understatement, but I could see Sam’s passion and dedication for the cause with his organization UWMAC.




                       L: People who work at Jinja dumpsite   R: Woman who runs and contracts the dumpsite

Woman and child working in the Jinja dumpsite

The Uganda Waste Report is the kickstart to a larger roadmap being created by UWMAC that will act as a guide for Ugandans to better understand their waste management situation and how it can be improved. It will be a model to expand on a larger scale throughout East Africa and for the waste and environmental industry in whole. It will be accompanied by films and various forms of documentation. If you have any interest in supporting this larger project then please contact: Taremwa Sam Rwabwehare.

Author: Timothy Bouldry from ISWA

Full report can be accessed here 




Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a nomenclature largely alien to a large majority of Nigerians. More worrisome of the strangeness elicited by the acronym (EPR), is that 98% of the industry that is supposed to be guided by it has not heard of it neither do they know what it is. The remaining 2% who know what it is are doing too little or nothing at all in accordance with what their obligations are under its guidance. This can be attributed to a multiplicity of reasons which includes non-strict government implementation, lack of enabling environment and consumer apathy to participate in sustainability programmes.

This brings us to the pertinent question; what is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)? Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental protection strategy with the objective of decreasing total environmental impact from a product which  includes its packaging by making the Producers of the product responsible for the entire lifecycle of the product, and in particular, the take-back, recycling and final disposal of the product including its packaging. Producers are supposed to implement EPR policy by initiating Product Stewardship Programmes (PSPs) that should give incentives to consumers in order to motivate them to participate in the take-back of packaging waste that stems from the use/consumption of a producer’s product or products.

EPR is not a new phenomenon as it is practiced globally as a means to ensure the sustainability of our environment. The world today is a consumption-driven society. The marketplace is laden with a multiplicity of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) whose packaging materials constitutes a big chunk of domestic waste generation. The packaging materials used for these products are mostly plastics and paper whose sources (that is, petroleum and forests) are been depleted in a most unsustainable manner contributing immensely to adverse global climatic changes experienced today. When rising global consumption patterns are juxtaposed against a rapidly increasing global population, making demands on fixed natural resources, spells nothing but doom to the global society.  It is against this backdrop that EPR was birthed so that big corporation that churns out these consumer products from virgin raw materials can take responsibility in the sustainable management of wastes that stems from the end use of their various products in such a way to maintain the integrity of the environment or what is called Circular Economy. Failure to manage industry associated waste in a sustainable manner may lead to the dearth of industries after an era when the raw materials used for their production becomes depleted and no close substitutes are immediately identified as suitable replacements; but circular economy ensures that packaging waste from an industry’s product are returned, processed and used as raw materials for new productions eliminating over-dependence on virgin raw materials for production thereby, conserving our natural resources.

The circular economy thrives on recycle-oriented waste management systems, but the challenge of recycling has always been how to create an efficient system for diverting recyclable waste most especially packaging waste from FMCGs to the recycling industry. The Federal Government of Nigeria recognizes the importance and benefits of EPR in sustainable waste management and has endorsed the efforts of National Environment Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in this regards. The obvious challenge is how to create an enabling environment for the implementation of NESREA’s EPR Operational Guidelines. It is very vital to identify the primary stakeholders in the implementation of EPR which are the Producers and Consumers and the various Middlemen in between. These Middlemen can be found in the Downward Cycle and Upward Cycle of consumer products. In the Downward Cycle we have Distributors and Retailers of consumer products and in the Upward Cycle, we have Collectors and Recyclers of packaging waste that arise from these consumer products.

There are various economic instruments that are recognized in the EPR Operational Guideline to encourage the uptake of recyclables. Some of them include; Virgin Raw Material Taxes, Advance Disposal Fees, Tradable Recycling Credit System, Deposit Refund System, etcetera. However, I want to use this medium to introduce another economic instrument that I hereby call the “Product Stewardship Bonus (PSB)”.

The Product Stewardship Bonus is akin to the Deposit Refund System. Let us start by defining Deposit Refund System (DRS). DRS is a refundable fee paid by consumers to ensure the return of products or their packaging materials at the end of their life cycle. It requires Retailers to pay Consumers a specified refund value for returning packaging materials and also requires Wholesalers/Distributors to pay refunds to retailers. Irrespective of the fact that Deposit Refund System has been quite successful in other highly developed societies that have attained higher levels of infrastructural development, efficient government regulatory mechanisms and have enabling laws, we foresee a challenge in its implementation in Nigeria. This is because no business whether retailers or wholesalers will refund any money from their own pocket for which there is no guarantee that it would be refunded to them by wholesalers and producers respectively. Also, in the refund process, beneficiaries will most likely demand interest on their capital and handling charges which there is no existent framework that can be used to benchmark these likely demands. Furthermore, a deposit fee passed from Producers to Distributors will be passed passively from Distributors to Retailers and from Retailers to Consumers culminating to exorbitant shelf price of a product. Likewise, there may not be a full commitment of retailers and distributors/wholesalers alike to pay refund fee to their customers who in this case are the consumers and retailers respectively. This may lead to lots of litigations by consumers who will definitely feel cheated. Overall, implementing a Deposit Refund as an EPR strategy will most likely have negative consequences in the sales of FMCGs from the arguments raised above. Hence, most Producers will most likely see Deposit Refund System as an EPR strategy with a red flag that must not be approached.

The Product Stewardship Bonus (PSB) brings a lot of flexibility to the Deposit Refund System and allows a range of players which includes collectors/recyclers instead of just retailers and wholesalers/distributors as middlemen in the refund process. The Product Stewardship Bonus (PSB) methodology is founded on the philosophy of implementing a price increase for a particular company’s product by the same value the company wants to give back to their customers when they return their products packaging. This price differential is what I call the Product Stewardship Cost (PSC). This is how it works; when a producer decides what value in Naira they want to give to their customers for participating in their Product Stewardship Programmes (PSPs) (that is, by returning their product’s packaging), this value is labeled on that particular product as Product Stewardship Bonus refundable to consumers on returning the product packaging. This value is factored into the price of that product. However, this value can only be refunded when a particular benchmark by volume of product is returned to the producer. This would check incessant visits to producers by consumers with few of their products packaging for refunds per time. Hence, collectors which may include retailers, wholesalers, distributors, recycle social enterprises will have the opportunity to underwrite PSB refund for consumers who can only aggregate small volumes of product packaging on a mutual agreement. The big collectors would now bale and convey to producers for a full refund of Product Stewardship Bonus and payment of handling charges where applicable. To throw more light on this scenario, let’s use Beverage Company A as a typical example. Let us assume that Beverage Company A fixes a 10 Naira Product Stewardship Bonus on a 50cl bottle of X Product, a retailer may pay a consumer 2.50 Naira to take-back the bottle of X and a Recycle Social Enterprise may pay the retailer another 5 Naira hence the retailer making a profit of 2.50 Naira on the sale of the bottle of X. The Recycle Social Enterprise will now return the bottle to Beverage Company A to earn the full Product Stewardship Bonus of 10 Naira probably after spending another 2.50 Naira per bottle of X on transportation logistics. In the above scenario presented, all the figures used are projected. Therefore it suffices to say that the Recycle Enterprise would have made not less than a profit of 2.50 Naira per 50cl bottle of X returned to Beverage Company A from our projections.

There are several benefits of implementing the Product Stewardship Bonus (PSB) as an EPR strategy. Few of which are mentioned here;

  • It makes the consumer immediately aware that there is a bonus to be earned when a product package is returned and hence motivates them to participate in PSP.
  • It creates a lot of jobs for youths putting good money into their pockets.
  • It creates a more enabling environment for producers to participate, unlike the Deposit Refund System that has several administrative bottlenecks.
  • It provides the recycling industry with a steady stream of recyclable materials.
  • It will spur the springing up of recycling hubs around producers and will compel producers to invest in the recycling industry in other to be able to uptake the steady stream of recyclable packaging materials coming from their stables.
  • It creates a pool of resources accruing from unclaimed PSBs that can be channeled to advancing other environmental causes.

Indeed, it is a win-win scenario for everybody but the overall winner is the environment!

Author: Maduka Ernest-Ngozichukwu, an Environmental Consultant/Sustainability Entrepreneur. He is also an Author and writes from Aba. Contact: +2348069667595 Email: maduka78@yahoo.com

Op-Ed: The views expressed in this article are the sole opinion of the writer.