A man poses in front of an unauthorized dump in the outskirts of Lagos. Lagos gains 250,000 new inhabitants every year and generates 10,000 tons of waste on a daily basis.
An informal waste collector in one of Lagos’ slums. Waste is a problem in poor neighbourhoods : it piles up, plugs sewers and blocks roads, spreading disease. It releases toxic smoke when burnt.
Two Wecyclers pose with their tricycles. Wecyclers proposes a waste collection service with a fleet of 25 of these tricycles. They are adapted to the rutted slum roads, are light and non-polluting. Waste is sorted into different sacks.
A Wecycler heads towards the small businesses of a university to collect their waste. He does two rounds a day and nearly 10kms.
A Wecycler collects waste from informal businesses in a poor neighbourhood in Lagos. Since it was founded two years ago, Wecyclers has recycled more than 525 tons of waste collected from 3,400 partner families.
For each family, the Wecycler weighs the waste collected and gives a receipt. Points are awarded depending on the weight of the waste. These points allows families to earn household objects.
After collection, a Wecycler notes down the quantity of waste sorted by a family. There are 3 kinds : aluminum cans, plastic water bags and plastic bottles.
A Wecycler poses surrounded by waste gathered and sorted by one partner family, and that he is going to collect. The partner families are either students or informal sellers like here at this store on a university campus.
Two Wecyclers pick up their overloaded tricycle. The waste is brought to one of the SME’s 3 hubs in Lagos where it is sorted again before being sold on.
Two Wecyclers tricycles in front of one of the SME’s hubs in Lagos. The waste is stored here before being sorted and compacted. From between 500kgs to a ton is sorted in these hubs every day.
A Wecycler who has gone into one of the hubs after his collection round, mends a punctured tire on his tricycle.
Waste collected by the Wecyclers van. For large volumes of waste, Wecyclers uses a van and a truck in addition to their fleet of tricycles.
A Wecycler brings sacks of waste collected during her round to be weighed in one of the Lagos hubs. Each hub has twenty or so sorters and a manager.
A sea of bottles and a sorter in one of the Wecycler hubs. In the space of two years, Wecyclers has collected and sorted 289 tons of plastic bottles.
A Wecycler sorter surrounded by the sacks she is responsible for. She sorts 5 of them in a day, separating paper from plastic. Sorters are seasonal workers hired by the month, with a wage that is higher than the legal minimum.
A sorter in one of the Wecycler hubs. Wecyclers has created 52 jobs in two years : 12 managers, 25 collectors and 15 sorters. The average wage is $125 a month, $8 higher than the minimum wage.
A team meeting in one of the Wecycler hubs. The manager who is speaking, was still working and living in England just a year ago. He returned to Lagos convinced of the potential and environmental impact of the Wecyclers project.
A team of sorters in one of the Wecycler hubs. Located in the poorer neighbourhoods, these are often the first formal jobs for these people.
A family sorts waste in a hub. The mother is a seasonal worker at Wecyclers and her children have come to help today, which Wecyclers forbids.
Two young women come and get the gifts they have earnt with Wecyclers’ points. With these points, partner families can obtain household objects or even bikes or generators.
A Wecycler manager gives a man the gifts he has earnt with Wecycler points : a bowl and bucket. The value of these gifts is, on average, $10 a month for partner families.
A man poses in a hub with his Wecyclers gifts, a bowl and bucket. In the poorer neighbourhoods where Wecyclers is located, these basic necessities are highly prized.
Bilikiss Adebiyi, founder and director of Wecyclers, chats with employees in one of the hubs. Wecyclers has created around 50 jobs in two years, in the poorer neighbourhoods, with people who have never had a formal job.
Bilikiss Adebiyi is the founder and director of Wecyclers. She grew up in Nigeria, then studied and worked in the States for IBM. It was during her MBA at MIT that she developed the Wecyclers project. She returned to Lagos for this project
Bilikiss (in the middle, with plaits), director of Wecyclers, plays tug-of-war with other mothers at the birthday party of a friend of her daughter, in the suburbs of Lagos.
Bilikiss’ (director of Wecyclers) two daughters play in the family living room in the evening after school. « Later on I’ll go to Harvard » says the youngest, who is 7, during a conversation.
Portraits of Bilikiss’ brothers and sisters, on her parents’ sofa. They all studied at university in England or the States. Their middle class parents made important financial sacrifices in order to achieve this. Bilikiss benefited from a scholarship.
Bilikiss’, director of Wecyclers, youngest daughter learns to recite the Koran with a home tutor. Bilikiss and all her family are Muslims.
A Wecyclers management meeting in their offices. People from all backgrounds are there : an ex-street child, an MIT graduate, an English man, a Harvard student.
Part of the Wecyclers’ team in the offices they share with other PMEs in a start-up hub. Most of the employees are under 30. « Bilikiss believes in us and wants to train us », one of them says.
During the Wecyclers teams’ weekly meeting. Ambitions are grand : to cover all of Lagos, to open recycling up to other kinds of waste, to organise training sessions etc.
A group of Wecyclers agents are getting trained. They will raise awarness about pollution and recycling among communities where Wecyclers cannot access for now.
An informal waste collector. Wecyclers is going to set up a program offering for them to continue working but as salaried employees. The SME also helps its partner families to gain access to banking services
Children head home after school. This road leads to one of the Wecycler hubs. It goes through an entire poor neighbourhood. Wecyclers had the verges strengthened as they systematically collapsed and were dangerous in heavy rain.
Employees of a plastic water bag manufacturer. They produce 5,000 bags a day. This packaging is very popular in the slum districts as it is cheap, but generates a lot of pollution as empty bags are thrown all over the place.
An employee of BridgeCo fills a bowl with used plastic water bags.
This small, 10-person company buys the bags collected by Wecyclers to convert them into small, nylon balls.
The manager of LAWMA, the waste management public authority in Lagos, in his office. LAWMA supplied the equipment and land to Wecyclers. Based on this successful experience, they want now to raise awareness on hygiene