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Providing Incentives for Recycling in Low-Income Communities Solution by: Wecyclers

Lagos, Nigeria: Wecyclers is fueling social change for the environment by allowing people in low-income communities to capture value from waste using low-cost collection infrastructure. The Triple Bottom Line

ENVIRONMENTAL The World Bank estimates that only 10% of waste in Africa is collected, with the remainder either left to pollute communities or burned in open fires. 1

SOCIAL About 30-60% of all the urban solid waste in developing countries is not collected, with less than 50% of the population served, creating great health risks. 2

Wecyclers harnesses the power of urban communities to reclaim neighborhoods from unmanaged waste using a crowdsourced, rewards-for-recycling platform. Wecyclers uses a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles to offer a convenient household recycling service in densely populated low-income neighborhoods. In doing so, it also provides low-income youth with employment opportunities as collectors and construction or maintenance artisans. Families are motivated to recycle their waste, receiving redeemable Wecyclers points over their mobile phone through an SMS-based incentive program. Families can then redeem their points in the form of goods that they value. Meanwhile, recycling companies purchase the sorted waste for reprocessing. Why a Sustainia100 solution?

ECONOMIC 65% of Lagosians earn less than $2 per day, 3 yet 79% of households pay more than $2 per month for waste collection. 4 Wecyclers estimates that recycling could reduce that cost by a third.

People living in slum conditions are subject to increased risk of spreading disease, and psychological stress that results from unmanaged waste heaps. This innovative household collection service reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and communities. Wecyclers has already improved the lives of households in the slums of Lagos by providing them with a way to capture economic, social, and health benefits from their waste.

Developed: USA and Nigeria

Deployed:  Nigeria 

“WE ARE HELPING LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS  CAPTURE VALUE  FROM THE WASTE THAT EXISTS ALL AROUND THEM.”

Wecyclers’ low-cost cargo bicycle provides convenient collection of recyclable materials to households in low-income communities.

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Co-founder and CEO, Wecyclers

The World Bank. ‘Poverty and the Environment.’ Report. 2000, 2 UNEP. ‘Developing Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan: Training Manual’. Report. 2009, 3 Time Magazine. ‘Making Over Lagos’. Article. 2011, 4 Lagos State. ‘Lagos State Household Survey’. Report. 2010. 1


Sustainia Award 10 Finalists 2014