Case Study: Advanced Material Resources For A Circular Economy


In order to use real national waste data to score the economics of material recovery resources, we will be using data from Nigeria the most populous African Nation..

Nigeria generates 65 million tons of municipal solid waste , and 1.2 million tons of electrical waste annual according to data from Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) and Basel Convention and Swiss Federal Laboratories.

Nigeria loses N180bn and thousands of jobs because of lack of fibre pulp to operate her paper mills.

In realization of the role of paper production in development, the policy makers in Nigeria have, since 1960’s, schematically planned to establish three primary pulp and paper mills in the country.

The three paper mills located in Kwara, Akwa Ibom and Ogun state have been losing money because of lack of virgin wood pulp to operate. the three mills needs 85000 tons of pulp to operate.

Professor Oluwadare Oluwafemi, of agriculture and forestry, University of Ibadan, identified the inability to source long fibre trees as one key reason for the non-performance of the mills in his paper entitled “Long Fibre Pulp Production in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”

Dr. Ukana Akpabio, professor of chemistry at University of Uyo, said the country is yet to utilise enormous pulp and paper materials (fibrous and non-fibrous) in the country, adding that there must be a well-defined strategy to develop the struggling industry.

The concern of these two noble professors can be meet right now, without planting and cutting trees, by just using the resources WASTE.

Paper is 8% of all generated waste in Nigeria. A simple disposal, collection and recycle system as is done all over the civilized world will solve that problem immediately and keep that N85bn cash home for investments and job creation….


If Nigeria collects only 50% of her 65 million tons of waste annually and recycles only 30% of it, 8% of the material recovery will be paper and enough in mass to supply the three mills 97% of their raw material.

Today the paper industry is the largest recycler in Europe. Recovered fibres are particularly suited for applications such as Newsprint and packaging, Newsprint is a big user of paper for recycling. Its utilisation rate of recovered paper has reached 87.5% (2009).Packaging: 62% of the total volumes. The utilisation rate for Household and Sanitary papers is still above 50% also fine papers can be based on recycle

Global WAste Market

This study will prove that without special skill or technological knowhow, sub Saharan Africa can reach Europe or USA waste recycle rate in a short period of time and benefit from the fast growing waste market, powered by the increasing resource scarcity, and the availability of new technologies being addressed here.

Almost all sub Saharan African countries have some form of environmental policy to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wildlife of their country. they need more enforcement not new laws and more involvement by the civil society.

According to the data from RISI, collection methodologies are not the overriding factor, in how successful waste materials can be recycled, but plays a role on how pure you can recycle items and their market value in the scrap market.

2013 Chinese government enacted “operation green fence” a law that ban contaminated recycled waste material into China.

China controls a large portion of the recycling market, importing about 70% of the world’s 500m tonnes of electronic waste and 12m tonnes of plastic waste each year.In order to profit from the $410bn scrap market and $15bn E-Electronic waste market.

This study encourages sub Saharan Africa policy makers and the civil society to move from single stream recycling —method of recycling which allows paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal to be mixed together for pickup to a dual stream recycling— keeping the fiber component, paper and cardboard separate from containers, including glass and plastic containers and cans

Glass is the material most affected by the amount of breakage in each type of collection system. In single-stream programs, it is virtually impossible to prevent glass from breaking as it goes to the curb, is dumped in the truck, gets compacted, gets dumped on the tipping floor of the MRF, is repeatedly driven over by forklifts, and is dumped on conveyor belts to be processed by the MRF”.

All of this broken glass means that not as much gets recycled—and that sometimes it contaminates other recyclables, like bales of papers. One of the main criticisms of single-stream recycling is that it’s led to a decrease in quality of the materials recovered which matters for the people and the economy build on waste resources revenue and jobs.

*Edited excerpt from the study titled “advanced material resources for a Circular economy” a study i am conducting for UNEP.


 Cade Adams Agbugba