Waste manager transforms scrap tyres to sustainable lifestyle products

Esther Kalu

The popular saying,”Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,”defines the lens through which Amidu Mohammed, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of PlastiBuild Creative Solutions, finds waste ( scrap tyres) attractive. The 24-year-old waste manager through his startup, officially founded in 2018 uses mostly scrap tyres as raw material to help people embrace sustainable lifestyles in his community.

“I am naturally attracted to waste,” says Amidu, a graduate of Chemistry Education from Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto while explaining what inspired his passion to create beauty out of waste.

The resident of Bariga community, a district and suburb area in Lagos State, Nigeria noted that his innovation was inspired by the appalling waste crisis in the state. According to him,  the smell of burning tyres caressed nostrils every morning and scrap tyres littered drainage systems in the community causing flood and pollution.

“I’ve lived here for about 20 years. On a normal day, we wake up to a smoky atmosphere because there is either a tyre burning somewhere or there is a guy who is about to be lynched.”I grew up to experience Lagos as a metropolitan area battling with the waste crisis. In my street in Bariga, we see people burning tyres on the streets and emitting into the atmosphere,”he explained.

Lagos produces approximately 13,000 tons of waste per day according to the Lagos State Waste Management Agency, while Nigeria produces over 32 million tons of solid waste per year, with only about 20-30 percent of it being collected and managed correctly.

In a 2023 report, the Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Aliyu Jauro, disclosed that  one billion end-of-life tyres are generated globally, with approximately four billion currently occupying landfills and stockpiles worldwide.

The NESREA boss also disclosed that in Nigeria alone, the automobile sector generates around 10 million tyres each year without environmentally friendly management traceability data.

Amidu noted that some of these realities spurred his passion to start his company after he figured the possibilities in exploring the tyre waste defacing his community.

“I was able to connect the dots to realize if I make products with tyres, it would actually last longer. Wrapping all those ideas together was how I started PlastiBuild,”he said.

In Africa, where environmental challenges often prevail, it is important to consider sustainable living practices, and Amidu’s innovation offers such solutions.  His sustainable startup company creates furniture and footwear from scrap tyres to solve the waste crisis and environmental pollution in his community.

Embracing sustainable living practices in Africa cannot be over emphasized as it is part of the solutions we need for a healthier and sustainable continent.

Transforming scrap tyres into functional products

On 25th January, 2024, during a visit to Amidu’s work station, a space filled with waste and upcycled tyres made into furniture and footwear, he explained the concept behind a recently completed furniture.

He said the unique, vintage and pic inspired Raffia wrapped centre table was made from stones and raffia ropes, noting that there a cultural significance behind the furniture piece particularly in regards to the people of Ilesa in Osun State.

 “It is not just furniture for furniture sake. This is called Raffia wrapped center table with specifics from the Ogedengbe edition from Ilesha Town. The stones signifies the strength of the Ogedengbe  warrior. Ogendengbe was a very strong soldier in the olden days,

“The four stones placed beneath signifies the four royal families in Ogedengbe which are called Birodun, Bilagbayo, Blair and Bilailere,” he explained.

According to him, the stone placed on top of the four stones represent the current ruling family which is called the Aromolayan dynasty.

The young CEO disclosed that he got the raffia ropes as waste from animal traders from Sokoto while the table legs were wood waste from a sawmill in Bariga.

Amidu said that women in the community usually buy the wood waste to use as firewood, but he buys them instead and alongside a local wood carver, he upcycled it into a functional furniture.

“I got the mirror in Amu market in Mushin. The Ogedengbe map on it is a printing engraving done in Shomolu, the largest printing hub in Nigeria,”  he said adding that the footwear made from tyres can last as long as 24 months before replacement.

Value Impact of Sustainable Lifestyle

According to the United Nations Environment, Sustainable Lifestyles are ways of living, social behaviors and choices that minimize environmental degradation. In essence, sustainable living allows people to understand how their lifestyle choices can make or mar the world.

Amidu said he provides a source of income for the local artisans that work with him, thereby contributing economically to his community. The young boys who help him with these tyres are majorly street urchins who he pays. Normally, they could steal or bully someone to get that same money.

In terms of social impact, he noted that the scrap tyres used to block the drainage but collecting them has drastically eliminated the effect in the community.

In an interview with a sustainability expert, Okundalaye Osamudiame, who also works as the Head of operations for Sustyvibes, a sustainability community movement guided by the principles of gender equality and environmental justice, she highlighted some of the value impacts of promoting sustainable lifestyle in the community through upcycling and recycling approaches.

She said that a more sustainable environment and lifestyle helps to preserve the ecosystem, protect biodiversity and combat climate change.

The sustainable expert noted that for the Nigerian economy, sustainable living creates competitiveness and new innovation while in the social context, it ensures an improved equality, human rights and well-being.

Future possibilities

A report conducted by a research expert, P. Smith highlighted the worldwide revenue of the Sustainability market, which is estimated at 339 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 and it will double by 2026.

 Accenture in an online survey also noted that 60% of consumers globally are ready to pay more for sustainable products.  What does this say about the sustainability lifestyle market and what does the future hold for the industry?

Ms. Ose believes that the future possibilities of sustainable lifestyle is shifting to more renewable sources of energy like solar and this can power our homes and businesses without any greenhouse gas. 

The sustainability and climate change expert said she also sees a future when the Nigerian economy embraces reuse, reduce, recycle and repair models.

“I see more of a green plant dieting – just a more healthy animal option. We can think of consuming animals that are raised in a more natural environment. I see an economy that embraces the culture of sustainability, “she added.

Africa Change Stories platform is established to tell African stories which are empowering and are at variant to stereotypical views of wars, famine, diseases. At African Change Stories, we believe narrative and angle matters. So we responsibly tell stories ethically. The platform therefore pushes forward great and energizing stories which will propel its people to consciously strive to do more. You have a story? Info@africanchangestories.org

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