The dingy-looking scavenger with a dirty bag hung on his shoulder and a thin rod in his hand is on a recycling mission, Naija News reports.
His vocation is proving to be a huge money spinner and at the same time one that safeguards humanity and the world.
A scavenger is a person who picks items from waste bins and dumpsites mainly for the purpose of recycling for personal use or sale. In Nigeria, they are popularly called Bola Bola, Gon-Gon, Mai Bola or Baban Bola.
While they are mostly regarded as thieves, the scavengers insist they don’t steal residents’ items but only earn a living by picking waste products which they value and get paid for it.
Warts and all, there won’t be the multi-billion dollar recycling business if not for these scavengers. Their activities at the bins and the various dump sites make the recycling of wastes to new products possible in a trash to cash fashion.
Recycling of waste products to plastics has been found to consume 88 per cent less energy it takes to manufacture plastics from raw materials. While the former reduces the amount of fossil fuel required to produce goods, manufacturing same from raw materials takes much more.
Wastes recycling, as enabled by the mai bolas of this world, comes highly recommended. The huge tons of liquid and solid garbage defacing Nigerian cities and towns are harbingers of flood, environmental degradation and health challenges like the current cholera epidemic in parts of the country.
The chief executive of a scrap processing company in northern Nigeria, Shehu Usman makes the point that recycling rubber materials picked by scavengers from refuse stream into new goods and keeps the ubiquitous materials out of landfills, gutters, ponds, rivers and the sea for the safety of living creatures.
“Recycling reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution. As recycling saves energy it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, thereby helping to tackle climate change,” he said.
By taking to recycling, companies and their factories would be reducing the amount of waste they pump into the environment. They will equally be conserving natural resources such as water, wood and minerals in their operations.
Tons of plastic wastes are daily discarded in the surroundings. These trashes, which are mostly plastic materials, are dumped in gutters to flows wherever they may when it rains. If not picked up by the scavengers, they find their way into rivers and water bodies which poses great threat to aquatic animals, humans and every other living organisms.
While the ones that flow into rivers pollutes the water for aquatic animals and humans, the ones which won’t flow causes flooding and erosion.
Little wonder Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abubakar disclosed last month that plastic pollution has become one of the gravest environmental problems in the world.
According to him, “Plastic pollution has become one of the gravest environmental problems confronting the global community with impacts transcending national, regional and international boundaries.
“The magnitude of the problem is reflected in the fact that each year about eight million tonnes of plastic toxic wastes end up in our oceans and if this trend continues, it is projected that there would be more plastic than fish in our oceans.”
Speaking on what obtains in other climes, the Representative of African Climate Reporters, Comrade Mohammed Zakari disclosed that recycling plastics reduces the amount of energy usage, raw materials consumption, pollution as well as the waste Americans produce.
“Recycling is one of the most important steps towards the reduction of pollution, and it is fun too, especially when done in groups,” he said while calling on the federal and state governments to support big and small recycling companies.
As if in response to this call, Minister Abubakar disclosed that measures being taken by the government to reduce plastic pollution in Nigeria include the development of national policies on solid/plastic waste management, a national plastic waste recycling programme, and waste to wealth entrepreneurship programme.
Source: Naija News