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Pandemic pushes Givo to help Nigeria become more circular

GIVO founder Victor Boyle-Komolafe: 'In Africa, the major challenge for growth is a cultural shift. There is hardly any education about recycling and we need it to make the Circular Economy a viable alternative.'

A start-up is transforming the use of recycled plastics in Nigeria by switching from exports of pellets to domestic production of much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE).

Givo – which stands for ‘Garbage In, Value Out’ – collects and recycles waste from households, individuals, and businesses in Kenya and Nigeria and has overhauled its business during the Covid-19 pandemic. Company founder Victor Boyle-Komolafe recalls feeling compelled to create international standard PPE such as face masks and face shields from recycled materials.

A total of 10 000 masks have been produced to date with support from the Netherlands-based Orange Corners Innovation Fund. Ten percent of the proceeds have been donated to Nigerian nurses, doctors and other people risking their lives in the fight against the virus.

‘We started in May 2020 and have now grown beyond making these items and have begun producing other sustainable and aesthetically pleasing products such as flower vases, children’s toys and Christmas ornaments,’ says Boyle-Komolafe, adding that Givo hopes to expand further the number of its products.

‘Local production of essential goods will become more important as a result of the pandemic. The cost of labour and the raw material is relatively cheap locally which results in a lower production cost. This allows our face shields to be cheaper than imported ones with similar certification and quality.’

Ultimately, the entrepreneur wants to make high-end plastics recycling possible across Africa by realising a circular economy for the entire continent. ‘We have a big goal to recycle 150 million bottles in the next five years,’ Boyle-Komolafe asserts. ‘We are working on increasing the number of recycling centres, which currently can each handle about 11.5 tonnes of plastic annually to a network of more than 20 000 locations.’

How can Givo accomplish this?

  • Geo-tagging of all activities and material traceability
  • Digitisation of all processes on Internet-of-Things enabled devices
  • Value addition by manufacturing semi-finished products
  • Community-based advocacy, engagement and training

Boyle-Komolafe says Nigeria is home to six of the world’s 50 largest landfills. Its capital, Lagos, where Givo is based, generates roughly one million tonnes of plastic waste every year. ‘We can only fix this problem if governments and local businesses work together to embrace the circular economy,’ he declares.

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