Our model solves the urban waste challenge for households by motivating families to recycle plastic bottles, plastic sachets, and aluminum cans through our SMS-based incentive program. For every kilogram of material that families recycle with us, they receive redeemable Wecyclers points over their cell phones in return. Families can then redeem their points for goods that they value, such as cell phone minutes, basic food items, and household goods. This makes redemption day pretty much an eventful ceremony for our subscribers and of course for us as a team.
Having to get rewards for accumulated points from recyclables brings some sense of pride, the pride similar to eating/cooking agricultural produce from your backyard garden. We had one of such redemptions recently and it was pure joy to witness the enthusiasm on the part of subscribers at the community.
This redemption held in a community in the Lagos Central senatorial district had residents in about 4 streets within the community redeem their points for household items. One of such persons was Comfort Bassey. Mrs Bassey is a petty trader and lives in this neighborhood with her family.
According to her, she got to hear about recycling through her son. “He came to me and requesting I allow him register to register to give his waste out for gifts”. Comfort says she gave him her permission in December, 2015 and also went ahead to ensure all recyclable materials were kept, gradually she says they gave their waste and the entire family and other residents got involved in the drive to keep recyclables.
When my son and I started, people around thought we were joking about getting rewards for waste but I can tell you now about five other families in my “yard” are now giving out their waste to Wecyclers
When asked what she thought about the reward system, Mrs Bassey says; It has made a difference for us around here, before now the recyclables; plastics, beverage cans e.t.c would litter the street and sometimes we dump them somewhere but now you barely ever find one because everyone is conscious as they know they can get something from it, today I’m getting beverage, noodles, household items from what I normally would have thrown away, it is totally different from what we do before by paying to have our waste picked by PSP and the “bola” although we still give them waste but not after we have picked/taken out(sort) what we want to give Wecyclers.
Having to chat with Mrs Comfort’s son, Daniel Bassey gave another exciting angle to her recycling story. Daniel a teenager and Junior Secondary student says he got to hear about Wecyclers in school; I heard about it through my friends in school and in December when they (the Wecyclers team) came for an outreach I took the flier and the form to show my mum and request for her permission and since then we have been recycling. Daniel says recycling helps him practicalize sanitation which he learns in his school curriculum and more importantly he is benefiting from it. Through Daniel, Wecyclers has gained some more subscribers including the five subscribers from his residence, their families and others like Reuben Lawal (a Primary six pupil) and his mum.
Recycling may be new to them but it is something that this community is embracing fast and more importantly through the awareness we are having a younger generation become aware of the need to recycle and the benefits it affords them. Daniel, Mrs Comfort, Reuben and others are taking action and spreading the word about recycling, what are you doing and what is your recycling story?