Nigeria eyes opportunities resulting from China's waste import ban

China Plus Published: 2018-01-08 09:12:00
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A Chinese ban on the import of solid waste officially takes effect this month.

While it has sparked concern among certain companies which have been sending their waste to China for recycling, some in Nigeria are suggesting China's new restrictions could prove an opportunity for their country.

CRI's Guan Chao explains.


Countries like Nigeria used to export thousands of tons of recycled plastic waste to China every year.

The wastes would be processed and used in making pipes, carpets and other products.

But the business has had to come to an end.

Days ago, China enacted a ban amid its latest environmental protection efforts.

It prohibits imports of recyclable waste including mixed paper, plastic bottles and 24 types of solid waste.

Plastic bottles waiting for recycling.[ Photo: IC]

Plastic bottles waiting for recycling.[ Photo: IC]

Nigerian recycling experts like Bilkis Abiola said that this presents a chance to help develop their country's recycling industry.

"I think in the medium to the longer term, people see this as an opportunity and they will position themselves and they will start adding value here in Lagos. Instead of me exporting my waste flakes, for instance, my waste plastics to China, I can turn around and create a bottle-to-bottle recycling plant or a plastic recycling plant here in Nigeria. Because what we do is we take the waste, we ship it to China and we just buy the end product."

Meanwhile, another expert Ola Oresanya believes their country has been capable of handling the problem.

"The technology to process plastic in Africa should be here. We don't really have to export. We don't. All the recyclables that we can gather, we should process them right here in Africa. We were exporting this. We were scavenging, scooping, packaging and exporting for production in China. Why can't we process here?"

Nigeria generates an estimated 30 million metric tons of waste annually. Of this figure, 2.5 million metric tons are plastic waste. The capital city Lagos on its own accounts for about 300,000 of the total.

So far, some recycling incentives have been put into effect in Lagos, but Oresanya suggests the industry is still at its infancy and has lots of room for expansion.

"What I think China can do to help Africa grow, and I think what African cities can do is that all the technology that you cannot use in China, bring them here. Let us all start to be recyclers. Let us now use those scraps. Bring your scraps to Africa, let us process them."

Abiola is also upbeat about the future of the domestic industry.

"Imagine Lagos growing and having more of that, having more industries that turn waste into products and Lagos now can even supply neighboring cities, neighboring countries with the end products. So I think Lagos is a port city, so it is a strategic thing that I think we need to really grab."

The experts are also suggesting that Africa could become a major recycling basin for the rest of the world, so that more jobs can be created, and more new materials can be made.

For CRI, this is Guan Chao.

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