Liberia, like most African nations, has a growing young population who are mainly located in urban centres like the city of Monrovia. This creates a high demand for products and services, which after being used turn into mounting waste. The World Bank estimates that the waste collection rate in Monrovia was about 800 tonnes of domestic solid waste per day and make up about 45% of the city’s total waste.
Another major problem that urban centres face is the unemployment of young people, especially those living in slums and other high-density areas in poor areas. Municipal authorities are struggling to tackle the growing solid waste that is produced daily.
“I started this organisation with the aim of generating income through the collection and recycling of plastic, organic and electronic waste,” said CEO and co-founder of Green Cities James K Mulbah.
Green Cities is a youth-based social enterprise that operates Liberia’s first waste segregation and recycling company. It was started in 2014 and has grown to an organisation with 24 full-time staff members. This is beside the hundreds of young people who have been empowered to earn incomes. The company has also expanded and mechanised its facilities. It also bought waste vehicles to cater for the increasing demand for waste recycling.
“Plastic, organic and electronic waste is a major problem for countries across the continent and causes health and environmental problems. Our solution is to collect and recycle this waste into usable products such as geometric sets for learners, rubber latex cups for rubber farmers and for making toilets. We also turn organic waste into quality fertilizer and animal feed using Black Soldier Fly Technology. We refurbish electronic waste and sell it at reduced costs,” he added.
Green Cities collects waste at a fee from individuals and youth groups. The waste is delivered to the facility or collected by its waste collection vehicles. The organisation also has waste contractual partnerships with banks, residential estates and restaurants.
He explained that after the waste gets to the facility, it is sorted and put into the respective recycling plants. About 45% of the garbage collected is organic. It is shredded and left for two to three months to decompose and then turned into fertilizer, which they package and sell to local farmers.
Plastic waste is washed, crushed and dried to form pellets or end products like geometric sets, mobile latrines, rubber latex collection cups for farmers and petroleum products like diesel, gasoline through the process of pyrolysis.
Unaltered e-waste is dismantled and exported to their waste partner, EnviroServe, which is the world’s largest electronics recycler in Dubai.
“What makes us stand out is that we are an integrated sustainable waste management company. We don’t just focus on one type of waste but on three types of waste. This contributes to our growth and sustainability,” said Mr Mulbah.
The company targets to have almost 1,300,000 customers from across Liberia, while also increasing revenue by 35% every year.
“Our plan is to expand to other cities in Liberia, which will create more jobs, reduce carbon emissions and increase our revenue,” he added.