In a vast expanse of land tucked into the Dawakin Dakata community, tonnes of plastic waste, comprising mostly used water and beverage bottles, collected in large disposed mosquito nets could be seen covering almost the entire space.
This is one of the places where the discarded bottles, which are mostly collected by scavengers from across Kano City, were brought to be compressed into large rectangular boxes for transportation to Lagos State, from where they are further processed and exported to countries as far as Japan, China, and Europe.
Daily News 24 reports that at the plastic pressing facility, women were hired to sort out used water bottles from beverage bottles and remove labels and caps.
Then, the bottles are collected and fed into a plastic baling pressing machine, which could compress up to a ton of plastic waste in 40 minutes.
Abubakar Ismail, who deals in the plastic waste collection business, told our correspondent that plastic waste is being acquired in kilogrammes (KGs), adding that each KG can be bought at N120 from scavengers.
This means that a tonne of plastic waste can cost up to N120,000.
“But after processing it and transporting it to Lagos successfully, we can make a profit of N100,000 per ton,” Mr Ismail said.
Problem of rent
However, despite the seeming generous profits in the plastic waste processing business, challenges abound.
Mr Ismail complained about the high rate of rent they are being charged by their landlords.
“Our major albatross, is high rent fees. This space that we use for our business does not belong to us. We hire it from landlords who charge high fees regardless of whether we make profit or not,” he said.
“We know the government may not give us loans, but if they want to support us at all, then they should provide us with a space, which we can afford,” Mr Ismail added.
Apart from rent, the plastic waste dealer, also lamented the rising cost of electricity, which also adds to their challenges.
“When you subtract the cost of rent and electricity from the profits, what remains is not usually very much,” he explained.
New products from recycled plastic waste
It is understood that new products can also be manufactured from recycled plastic waste after they are collected from refuse dumps.
Auwal Babangida, an operator in one of the plastic recycling plants in Dawakin Dakata, explained to our correspondent how plastic waste materials are being collected, chopped into little pieces by a crusher and then subsequently turned into pellets.
“When the chopped plastic materials are brought to us, we process them in the Waste Plastic Recycling Pelletizing machine, which brings out the final product in form of plastic pellets,” he said.
According to him, these pellets, depending on the plastic waste could be used to manufacture new plastic products such as, buckets, water sachets, shopping bags, food bowls and kettles.
Mr. Babangida said the plastic waste recycling process requires at least nine people to operate.
“The machine alone needs three operators while packaging of the finished material and loading requires six people,” he said.
Why plastic recycling matters to climate change
Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest burden of plastic waste which contributes to environmental pollution.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated that 400 million tons of plastic waste are generated worldwide annually, exceeding the yearly production of plastic.
It is also reported that in Nigeria, of the 32 million tons of waste generated annually, 2.5 million tons are plastic waste, making the country the highest in Africa and among the top 10 countries globally with the highest contributions to plastic pollution.
In a report, a former commissioner of environment, Dr Kabiru Ibrahim Getso, told Daily Trust, in January, this year that the Kano state government, was evacuating 77 trips of refuse from the state’s area, amounting to estimated 4,000 tons of waste daily.
Daily News 24 understands that plastic waste contributes to a significant amount of the total refuse dumps.
According to experts, plastic waste are dangerous to health and environment because their exposure leaks harmful chemicals to the atmosphere which can cause harm to the climate.
They say some of the plastic waste can make their way into bodies of water and can cause damage to plants and aquatic animals.
But the experts believe that efforts that are being made to recycle plastic waste and turn them into useful things can help mitigate severe effects of climate change.
*Additional reporting by Farida Usman
This is an independent investigation carried out by the Daily News 24 team. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without proper attribution to Daily News 24, generally including the author’s name, a link to the publication, and a line of acknowledgement.