Circular Economy, the billion dollar…

Circular Economy, the billion dollar  movement Africa is sleeping on.

 With a population of approximately 1 billion, sub-Saharan Africa as of the year 2019 generated 180 million tonnes of waste at the rate of 0.5% per capita per day. Only 4% of these wastes are recovered through recycling.

 According to Wikipedia, A circular economy is “a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible” that aims at tackling global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.

Circular Economy is an all-encompassing niche; putting into consideration every waste generated. This includes textile waste, animal waste, plastic wastes, food waste, electronic waste and every other form of daily generated waste.

The question is what happens to the remaining 96% waste generated in Africa? How are they recovered and re-initiated into the system? Are there organizations focusing on recovering them? What is the market acceptance for recovered waste and how knowledgeable are we to recognize the wealth in other wastes apart from plastics?

Whenever you hear the waste to wealth slogan anywhere in Africa, there is a 97% chance it’s referring to plastics recovery and recycling. An average African think linearly even in the matter of  circular economy. The disenfranchisement amongst waste types is glaring which makes a lot of people think waste to wealth is all about plastic waste.


Unfortunately, this mindset has created lots of setbacks in the achievement of a totalitarian economy that embraces circular movement. With few local organizations raising awareness to other forms of waste problem we have in Africa, the effect of this awareness is still insignificant due to the misconception around waste.

In 2020, Terracycle, a US based recycling company which pride itself as “Recycling Everything Waste” made known it’s financial statement for the year ending December 31, 2019 which shows that their revenue rose to $27.1 million which is entirely from organic growth, net income was $3.2 million and cash on hand was $13 million. 
This company’s growth came entirely from circular economy solutions.
Colored trash bins used to recycle paper, plastic and glass. Digital illustration.

Nigeria is still far behind in embracing this alternative revenue generation strategy. Food waste is known to be one of the highest sources of Bio-gas yet, Nigerians trashes 37.9 million (37,941,470) tonnes of food every 12 months according to the United Nations.           Sadly, we are still largely dependent on LPG, Firewood and Kerosene. The question is, how much money are we wasting by leaving food wastes to rot away? It’s the same with other waste, from tyres to plants, plastics and textiles.

While developed nations are looking for ways to reuse and recycle their wastes, ours still ends up largely on dumpsites. With many people pointing fingers at the government, should we continue to allow wealth slip off our hands because we are ignorant?

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