Waste or Wealth: Depends on Who You Ask [Converting Waste to Wealth]

Converting Waste to Wealth

Converting Waste to Wealth

Now more than ever, there’s a whole lot of waste being generated in every corner of the earth on a daily basis from household wastes to industrial wastes, medical wastes, chemical wastes, and even agricultural waste. Due to the increasing chemical complexity of most of the waste materials, it could take thousands of years to decompose even after they have been buried, thereby leading to environmental degradation and global warming. The waste management industry is presently in the frontline on the fight to protect our environment from hazardous substances.

Waste management is not a business that most people, especially those of our generation, would readily go into because of the filth and the prevalent social taboo involved and that is why it continues to be a huge money maker for the very few people that decide to brave it.

It’s possible to turn trash to treasure with the revenue opportunities available in solid waste.

My focus for now is on recycling owing to the fact that it is a practice that can be carried out by every Eze, Musa and Segun, both large-scale and small-scale.

Here are some simple, yet effective ways which one earns from recycling:

Waste Collection Center

If you cannot afford a garbage truck, you could set up a place where people can come and dump their garbage for a fee and then you will hire a garbage truck to collect all the dumped waste and transfer them to a proper dumpsite. This would be most welcomed in areas that experience epileptic waste collection and resultant litter of waste pile all over the environment.

Scrap Metal Depot

Metals are one of the hottest items that can be recycled. Waste metals can be made into a lot of other things. You can go around collecting metal scraps or have people who collect them sell to you in large quantities while you resell them to companies who produce nails, roofing sheets, pots, cutleries etc.

Recycling of Electronic Waste

You could also start a business of collecting electronic wastes like bad televisions, radios, old computers, discarded cell phones etc. These items can either be sold to manufacturers for refurbishing and resale or to spare part dealers who would remove some of the useful parts and resell them.

Rubber Waste Recycling

Rubber is never a waste material. Why? Because rubber can always be melted and transformed into something else; so you can go around picking up all the discarded rubber shoe sand slippers, buckets, jerry cans and several other rubber wastes that people throw away because they consider them useless.

Companies that make tires like Dunlop or plastic chairs would be glad to buy them from you.

Add the fact that rubber/plastic is very resistant to decay and thus remains in the environment for lengthy time periods; you would be doing your part in helping to fight against environmental degradation, and be getting cash for it. (This is termed Social Entrepreneurship)

Bottles and Cans Recycling

This is one of the major items constituting environmental nuisance. It’s not uncommon to see used bottles and cans littering the street. If you look on the sides of those bottles and cans, you will see where the manufacturers stated that those items can be recycled. You can go around picking those bottles and cans and sell them in large quantity to the manufacturers.

Polythene Material (Water-proof bags) Recycling

This is another item you would always find on the street. Just take a walk down your street and count how many polythene wastes you would find – in fact forget the street and start with your yard or compound. Even the cleanest of areas still somehow have them gallivanting in the wind. Polythene just like rubber could be melted and reused.

Paper Recycling

Everyone uses paper one way or the other but the good news is that paper could be made into other useful materials like tissue paper. So you could just go around collecting waste paper and use them to start your own tissue production company or sell them to companies that produce tissue paper.

Used Clothes Recycling

Used clothes are also useful for making other useful items like foot-mats, mattresses, cushions, the list is endless. Used clothes could also be resold to other people who cannot afford to buy new clothes (Okirika).

Products Listing Website/Brokerage Services

You can become a broker that links people who want to buy recycled materials with people who want to sell them. One major challenge that people in the recycling business face is knowing where or who to sell to. You can solve that problem by creating a website where you can list items for sale so that people who need to buy them can easily find them. Your reward would be the commission that you would charge for each deal you broker.

With all these above, it’s going to be surprising to a lot of people how much of the so-called trash from their homes and neighbourhood will fetch them cash instead of pollution problems. Imagine taking care to separate all the aforementioned materials before they go into the main rubbish bag(s); what will be left to fill them? Compost waste from the kitchen?

That brings me to another point: Composting. Organic waste can be used to create compost to defray methanegas production and be used as inputs for fertilizer, construction materials, and even animal feed.

So, what’s really left as trash?

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Onyedika is a student of environmental management at Nnamdi Azikiwe University and have interest in sustainable development of the environment.

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