The first sustainable waste management symposium in Africa!

25 June 2019

The first sustainable waste management symposium in Africa was held in Lagos on the 25th and 26th of July 2019. The event which was launched by Cranfield University in partnership with WestAfricaENRG brought together experts working in the waste and resource management, energy production and environmental engineering sector. The conference was well attended with over 200 people from industry with the permanent secretary, Mr Abiodun Bamgboye representing the Governor of Lagos State using his address to talk about plans for waste including the “blue-box” programme a new initiative designed to enable Lagos residents recycle at source.  The outgoing (Mr Ola Oresanya) and incoming (Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin) MDs of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) were also in attendance and used a case study session to discuss the role of LAWMA in waste management. This was followed by a very engaging Q&A session.

The first day of the conference focussed on the role of the informal waste sector in waste management and the barriers and factors required to successfully integrate this sector into the waste management value chain. Those in the informal waste sector sometimes referred to as “scavengers” embark on these activities as a means to provide for themselves. However, they are operating in an unregulated manner and sometimes this poses a danger to themselves, for example, the lack of use of PPE.  There is also a clear tension between integrating them into a more structured regulated system and recognising the role they play in that whilst “scavenging” they are making environmental contributions. Whatever the case, it is clear that a means of formalisation is required that does not result in further disadvantage to the informal waste sector.

The third session covered the infrastructure deficit in the Lagos Waste Management system. One thing that was clearly highlighted was the lack of infrastructure to cater to the waste arisings in Lagos. Another key issue that arose was a debate around the amount and composition of waste that is generated. There is clearly a gap in data and before adequate infrastructure can be built, it will be important to have a better understanding of the amount of waste generated and the composition.

The penultimate session on day 1 looked at the feasibility of Energy from Waste in Nigeria leaving the delegates with the thought of whether Nigeria can do to the power market what it did in telecommunications where Nigeria wen from no broadband and not many fixed landlines to a substantial infrastructure enabling almost everyone to have internet connectivity. This was followed by a KPMG representative providing an insight into the regulatory environment for power as this is relevant for any new connections.

The final session concluded with a technology and skill road map to achieve the energy from waste aspirations in Lagos. Afterall without these skills it will be impossible to deliver the significant ambitious waste management solutions required in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Day 2 was structured in 2 parts: first a look at the technology options and quite importantly the lessons learnt from the UK in waste management so that these could be integrated into the thought process when looking at technology solutions for Lagos. The key message from this was to avoid over complications and to keep things simple. This presentation was followed by a talk on how Anaerobic Digestion can form part of the waste management solution.

The second half of the day was designed as a workshop with two sessions covering the transition to sustainable waste management and a session held by the Food and Beverage Alliance on extended producer responsibility.

The conference ended with a summary of the events over the previous two days and the encouragement to use the momentum generated to talk less and do more.


Bunmi Sangosanya, Cranfield University


Cranfield University

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university, creating leaders in technology and management. They work closely with business, industry and government across the world. Through their industry partnerships, applied research projects and  executive education and professional development programmes, they work with over 1,500 companies and organisations. They are focused on the specialist themes of aerospace, defence and security, energy and power, environment and agrifood, manufacturing, transport systems, and water. The Cranfield School of Management is a world leader in management education and research.




WestAfricaENRG is dedicated to developing and embedding the sustainability of West African economies. WestAfricaENRG are the owner-operator of Nigeria’s first Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) situated in Alimosho, Lagos where they recover the valuable fraction from the Municipal Solid Waste, and put that back directly in to the production economy as feedstock for plastic, metal and paper recycling.




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