The bet of Africa Global Recycling (AGR), a Togolese SME established in the capital since 2013, is that waste is much more than waste – this is the company slogan. “We have around fifty customers, manufacturers, schools, public administrations, to whom we offer a global solution for the management of their recyclable waste”, explains Edem d’Almeida, the founder of AGR, while taking a tour of the owner. Waste, he knows: the young boss studied in France, at Suez Environnement.
Sorting at source
In Lomé, as in many West African cities, garbage sorting hardly exists. “For now, the only answer to the waste management question is landfill or landfill. These are emergency solutions, “says Edem d’Almeida, controlling the baler on which a large compacted cube of plastic bottles is placed. “We condition the waste to optimize transport costs. Afterwards, it goes to Africa, Asia and Europe. “
Here, the waste is not only sorted, it is then sold to companies which will transform it into books, irrigation pipes, agricultural tarpaulins, cardboard boxes… Part of the money from the sale is donated to the customer from whom AGR has collected the waste. The customer then becomes a seller and the waste becomes a raw material.
Edem’s Almeida believes in this economic model of financial compensation. “Take the example of office papers. We will invoice our suppliers 10 or 15 CFA francs [around 0.02 euros] for a kilo collected. We will sort them, condition them and sell them for 20 or 25 CFA francs per kilo. Part of the difference will go to AGR and part to the supplier. It reduces the cost of its waste management. “
Since the creation of AGR, nearly one million euros have already been donated to its client companies. “I like to remind people that good waste management – and, beyond that, the fight to save the planet – can only be done if it is profitable. It’s sad but it’s like that. Edem’s Almeida is pragmatic. But beyond this economic logic, this source sorting system is also a means of reducing the amount of waste dumped in landfills.
In the 600 m2 warehouse, a dozen employees continue to separate red caps from blues, fine papers from cardboard boxes, and to dismantle fridges, televisions and microwaves. Forty-five types of recyclable waste pass through the hands of 20 AGR employees. “You see, this man was homeless. Today he was able to get a loan for housing, “said Edem d’Almeida, turning to the person concerned. The Togolese see his company as a laboratory for social innovation.
“The employees come from different backgrounds. You have some that have never been to school. Today they find themselves team leaders, enthuses the company manager. From waste, we have the possibility of giving back its letters of nobility to a generation that is often said to have been sacrificed, to people in great precariousness who think that they do not have the right to succeed because they are not not been to school. Here we prove that it is wrong and that, yes, it is possible to do otherwise. By the end of the year, between five and ten new employees will be recruited. In nine months, Edem’s Almeida hopes to have doubled its workforce.
Source: The World