Our cities are filled with scavengers who scout for recyclables wastes for collection. These men and women make a living from picking scraps; they are semi-illiterates and most can use mobile handsets. They operate a flexible method of renewable waste collection, though profit driven. Bulks of renewable waste retrieval from far to near places are done by them. Majority of people call them scavengers.

Image Credit: Pulitzer Center

What exactly do they have to work with? Metal carts which have the ability to pick-up 30-40kg of waste. They limit their activities to public spaces and seldom venture in private quarters. Let’s assume the amount of recyclable waste picked by fifty scavengers in a Nigerian urban city totals 1500kg daily, which makes it 547,500kg in a year. This can go a long way to make huge difference. Unfortunately, the major hindrance facing this type of waste collection is getting the right location of waste products within a short time-frame.

Image Credit: Pulitzer Center

It will be interesting to note that Nigeria with over 100 million mobile users, high-presence of major IT hubs, impressive numbers of start-ups focused on building mobile apps and arrays of service provider giants, cannot boast of a single mobile app to solve the problem of waste that the scavengers are facing.

I believe that if we apply information technology to waste retrieval, it will definitely bring a different approach to the way scavengers locate waste. Availability of a waste collection app, which allows users to log in descriptive details and quantity of recyclables wastes around them which are then matched to scavengers within the vicinity in other to create an easy waste collection channel, would make a great impact in the waste retrieval process.


Also, majority of Nigerians are embracing the “reuse” and “recycle” gospel and waste recycling is gaining momentum among various households which also makes the app useful for individuals and corporate organisations who would love to notify scavengers, recycling companies or waste retrieving authority about their wastes.

This approach can help to scale up the impact of recycling and it would have a visible impact on how we manage waste. I believe this could be a different approach in waste recycling rather than re-inventing the wheel.

Author Bio:

Okechukwu Orakwue,

Medical Doctor and Environmentalist


1 reply
  1. Ekene
    Ekene says:

    The problem with the solution you are offering is that people cannot quantify the waste produced and so, cannot log it on any device. Also, there is little or no profit in getting the scavengers to pickup the waste from a household.
    Finally, all waste collected by environmental or other organizations usually end up with the scavengers at the end of the day except those that are burnt by certain households.


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