In Nigeria, a country that relies heavily on revenue from oil exports, entrepreneur Evdolaba Rensu has discovered a new type of black gold: used car tires.
She has set up a recycling plant called Freetown, which is dedicated to turning old tires into bricks for paving roads, floor tiles and other things that are in great demand in the country.
“Part of the motive was to make something new out of something that, in return, would still be dumped anywhere as waste,” Rensu told Reuters at her factory in the southwestern Nigerian city of Ibadan.
“It enables us to create a whole chain of value around the tyres,” she added, holding a block of paving bricks, one of the company’s best sellers.
There are no waste processing operations in Nigeria except sporadically at best. In villages, towns and cities, piles of waste are commonly seen, and residents usually burn them at night because there is no safer way to dispose of them. Used tires are left unused normally.
The Freetown plant relies on garbage collectors who collect old tires from landfills. They earn between 70 and 100 naira ($0.17 and $0.24) per tire.
Auto repair shops supply some tires directly to the factory.
Starting in 2020 with just four employees, Freetown has grown rapidly to a workforce of 128. To date, the factory has recycled more than 100,000 tires into everything possible, from speed bumps to paving patios.
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