I had the privilege of discussing Accra’s Waste Management System with the Managing Director of one of the contracted waste management removal companies (Jekora Ventures). Jekora Ventures was rated the Best Waste Management Service in Accra. They are the only contracted company that divides waste into 4 different bins at the source (organic, paper, plastic and garbage). We approached them to investigate if our office building would be able to come onboard with there project. Unfortunately our office is just outside of their contracted region, this has caused for some more barriers along the way but we are getting closer to having a recycling program within our neighbourhood in Accra. Below is some questions that Immanuel Nartey-Tokoli answered.
Give an overview of How Waste Management Works in Accra?
“Waste Management in Accra is private, so each region has a different company pick up there waste. When I came in the pricing scheme for the region varied depending on the financial class of each neighbourhood. So major chains and businesses (1st class) would pay 150 cedi a month for waste pick up and a 3rd class neighbourhood will pay only 20 cedi per month for the same amount of waste. This was challenging, because the biggest areas were the 3rd class areas and waste pick up was always the last bill to be paid within a household. Every year when the river would flood, everyone stopped paying their waste bill. This is when we decided as a private company to look at alternative incomes as this was not financially sustainable. Our biggest expense was driving all of the waste to the dump which was 750 miles roundtrip.”
How did you Decide What Changes to Implement?
“In 2012 we evaluated what our waste was made up off and we discovered that, 60% was organic waste, 17% plastic, 9% paper, 14% other. Seeing that 60% was organic waste, we looked into sorting garbage from the source. So far we have gotten commercial businesses and restaurant to sort their waste and in exchange we reduce the price that we charge. This has helped reduce our overall budget because have significantly reduced that amount of trucks that drive to the dump daily. Once we started this initiative we were approached by the Bill Gates Foundation that had started a youth compost project in Accra to create jobs but that it was not longer financially stable as there was low periods and high periods. We created a partnership, we are able to us there facilities and we contribute money to their workers salaries because we have the money to put up when times are slow.”
How did this create another Revenue Stream?
“We now have another revenue stream by having the compost sold as top soil to gardeners and farmers. In 2014 we were approached by a research group that was interested in us using there researched formula to also break down solid waste. So as of right now we get funding from multiple partners including the Bill Gates Foundation and Various Research Groups. In the future we hope to be more profitable so that we are able to give back to our partners.”
If you have your own composting plant, where do you send the recycling?
“Our recycled plastic is sold to interested buyers for a lower price then they would get for new plastic. Recycling our own plastic would be to large of a cost for us at the moment.”
What are your future plans?
“Our goals for 2017 are to get education programs into the schools within our district, there are about 50 schools but if we can get these schools separating their waste we are not only lower our cost, but we are also creating habits for the future. We are also currently investigating recycling of metal, glass and e-waste.”