A new study will examine the feasibility of advancing fully circular value chains in Nigeria, to help close the loop on plastics waste. The work is being undertaken by an ongoing partnership between chemicals firm Dow and Empower, a Norwegian circular platform company which uses blockchain technology to track plastics waste.
The study will focus on the implementation of a scalable digital waste collection and recycling business model in Lagos. The findings will inform the long-term ambition of the partnership which is to digitize the local collection points, recyclers, and waste streams, to ensure transparency and reliability of the process of tracking recyclable plastics waste and converting it into new sustainable packaging.
The project will see Dow and Empower examine the entire value chain to ensure sustainable plastics sourcing is commercially viable across all areas. The businesses will also explore the potential to crowdsource and digitally track waste collection in order to create significant and reliable streams of raw material feedstock which will meet the needs of buyers.
The Empower digital platform – which uses blockchain technology to ensure the seamless tracking and monetization of plastics waste – provides cost-efficient collection of plastics waste, sorting at source, and local job creation both for waste pickers in the community and in waste management facilities. The study will identify opportunities to further incentivize the expansion of decentralized sustainable waste management systems, that is communities managing collection, segregation and processing their waste locally, in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Dow and Empower have been working together in Nigeria since 2020 to map and crowdsource the collection and sorting of plastic water sachets, which is a significant environmental problem across West Africa. The findings of the new study will assist in scaling up Project ReflexNG – a water sachet recycling program Dow launched in Nigeria last year in partnership with Omnik, Incentive based collection partners and the Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre, specifically.
The project aims to recycle over 300 million sachets, which would otherwise end up in the environment or landfill, into new applications. To date, the program has provided an additional source of income for over 8,000 subscribers to the program’s phone app which enables the coordination of collection and sorting of plastics waste around the city, over 200 waste pickers and has recovered almost 600 MT of plastic waste in total.
Adwoa Coleman, Africa Sustainability and Advocacy Manager at Dow commented: “Achieving full circularity for plastics, that is, where the practical benefits are matched by its environmental performance, takes each part of the value chain working as a collective, and research, such as this new study, which helps us to further assess the feasibility and traceability of plastics waste is invaluable in helping us to advance our efforts.
“That’s why we are excited to partner with digital innovators like Empower to explore new, efficient ways to equip our value chain, partners, and customers so we can advance a circular economy for plastics in Nigeria and the wider continent of Africa.”
“Our ultimate aim is to create a disruptive and circular global plastic waste ecosystem that enables a cost-efficient and reliable sourcing of recycled plastics, with fully-traceable materials, to create reliable streams of higher value plastic for the private sector while creating jobs for people that need it the most,” explains Wilhelm Myrer, CEO and Founder of Empower.
This project is aligned to Dow’s global STOP THE WASTE sustainability target which the firm says will enable the collection, reuse or recycling of one million metric tons of plastic globally by 2030.
The work will be part funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
For more information, please visit: www.dow.com.