Lagos – In the bustling town of Lagos, Nigeria, plastic bottles are now more than mere garbage. Nigeria has been ranked 11th in the list of Plastic Polluters. This has caused quite a lot of pollution leading to environmental defects, in and around Nigeria. Thus was formed the Africa Cleanup Initiative (ACI), an NGO focusing on sustainability. The NGO has taken initiative to clean up this plastic mess.
Lagos discards 450,000 megatons of Plastic into water bodies every year. Thus, Alexander Akhigbe, the founder of ACI, founded the RecyclesPay scheme. In a nation where more than half of the population lives on less than $1.90 per day, ACI has integrated clean-up and education. As per the RecyclesPay scheme, parents of children studying in partner schools may earn up to 4000 Naira for every 200 kilograms of Plastic bottles collected and submitted to the schools.
This money is almost half the school tuition fees of one of the partner schools, Morit International. The earnings are 4000 Naira ($11) out of the 7500 Naira ($24) school tuition fee. The annual fee of the school is 18,000 Naira ($50 approx.). One parent, a trader selling car engine oil at the Ajengunle market, one Mrs. Oriola Oluwaseyi, tells of her troubles in paying the fee with her meager earnings. She says that now she spends some of her time picking up PET bottles from shops and vendors to collect and submit to the school. She does this twice a month.
Mr. Akhigbe reveals that this idea was taken up in place of the vast rate of Out of School children, at around 10.5 million children, according to UNICEF. He says that with people like Mr. Patrick Mbamalu (Proprietor of the Morit International School) around, literacy rates may soar in Nigeria and Africa entirely. Steps like the RecyclePays scheme can go a long way in simultaneously educating children and cleaning up plastic.
It can hence be said that in Lagos, and other schools in Nigeria, with over a 1,000 children being helped with the recycler pays scheme, PET bottles have ended up imparting education, however indirectly.