‘Over the next five years we’re going to recycle 150 million plastic bottles’

 Victor Boyle-Komolafe’s goal is crystal clear: to rid Nigeria of plastic waste. Victor is the founder of GIVO (Garbage In Value Out), a tech company that helps other companies adopt circular business practices. During the coronavirus crisis, GIVO started recycling plastic itself. It has already produced 10,000 plastic face shields, 10% of which have been donated to key workers in Nigeria. The Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF) financially supported GIVO’s initiative.

Victor Boyle-Komolafe
©GIVO
Victor Boyle-Komolafe

GIVO is a circular tech company. What exactly do you do?

‘At heart, we’re a tech company that helps other companies adopt circular ways of working. GIVO offers an automated system for collecting, processing and marketing recyclable materials. Using data and the Internet of Things (IoT), we help companies achieve circular production.’

How big is the plastic waste problem in Nigeria?

‘Every year, Lagos produces over a million tonnes of plastic waste. Most of this ends up in our rivers. Our waterways have become floating rubbish tips. Nigeria is already home to 6 of the 50 biggest rubbish tips in the world and now, with our rivers also growing more and more polluted, the harm to people and the environment is profound. This problem can only be solved if companies and public authorities take serious steps towards a circular economy.’

During the coronavirus crisis you decided to start recycling plastic waste yourself. Why?

‘Actually, GIVO already had the plans and resources to start recycling. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to test our ideas and our method to achieve a circular economy. In May 2020 we started producing plastic face shields and six weeks later the first batch came off the assembly line. So far we’ve produced 10,000 masks and 10% of these have been donated to key workers in Nigeria, like doctors, nurses and teachers, and to people in poor health, for whom coronavirus could be fatal.’

GIVO Face shield LAWMA
©GIVO
Plastic face shields for the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA)

Will GIVO stop its plastic recycling activities after the coronavirus crisis?

‘No, certainly not. In fact, we’re pursuing major ambitions in plastic recycling. Our goal is to recycle 150 million plastic bottles over the next five years – an enormous mountain of plastic, which we’re going to fish out of our rivers and turn into plastic panels for the construction industry, vases and toys.’

Will GIVO stop its plastic recycling activities after the coronavirus crisis?

‘No, certainly not. In fact, we’re pursuing major ambitions in plastic recycling. Our goal is to recycle 150 million plastic bottles over the next five years – an enormous mountain of plastic, which we’re going to fish out of our rivers and turn into plastic panels for the construction industry, vases and toys.’

GIVO Face shield
©GIVO
A plastic face shield produced by GIVO

How are you going to achieve this, in practical terms?

‘We’ve developed modular containers for local processing of plastic waste into recyclate, out of which new products can be made. We call the locations of these containers GIVO centres. One GIVO centre can recycle 109,500 kilograms of plastic a year, and our goal is to establish a nationwide network of GIVO centres. That means we need to create 20,000 operational locations.’

Who’s going to be running all these local centres?

‘Each GIVO centre will be a franchise operation run by women. As a social enterprise we’re working actively to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Making women the owners of the franchises will contribute to gender equality and empowerment for women and girls (SDG5).’

What are the biggest challenges facing Nigeria and the rest of the African continent when it comes to circular economy?

‘Waste is a gigantic problem in Nigeria, and in all of Africa. And, so far, there is no government investment in or policy for a truly circular economy. Right now, it’s mainly up to companies themselves to take responsibility and identify opportunities for circular business. One important thing the Nigerian government should do, is make extended producer responsibility (EPR) mandatory for companies, just like in the European Union. This means producers would still be responsible for their products even after they’ve been used. But GIVO demonstrates that a company that wants to become part of a circular economy doesn’t have to wait for the government. And we’ll be able to demonstrate the success of our strategy in five years’ time when we’ve recovered the 150 millionth plastic bottle from our beautiful Nigerian rivers.’

Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF)

Commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF) was launched by Orange Corners at the end of 2019. The fund’s goal is to improve access to finance for startups taking part in the Orange Corners incubation and acceleration programmes. The OCIF enables them to scale up their business and develop innovative solutions to local challenges that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

World Circular Economy Forum+Climate

In order to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the world must also change into a circular economy. The World Circular Economy Forum+Climate is the online conference to draw attention to the importance of a circular economy to achieve climate goals. The conference will take place online on April 15-16, 2021.