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A Clean Up of Lagos’ Beach

Nigeria’s megacity of 20 million people produces between 13,000 and 15,000 tonnes of waste per day, including 2,250 tonnes of plastic, according to a Lagos recycling startup, WeCyclers. Despite recent cleanup efforts and an emerging recycling sector, Lagos has no rubbish sorting system, and lack of public awareness about pollution presents a huge environmental challenge. Litter in Africa’s most populous city gets whisked away by the rains and waterways and ends up in piles of trash on the sprawling beaches. Lighthouse Beach stretches for about 100 kilometres along the Atlantic, all the way to neighbouring Benin. Lined with palm trees, the beach could be heavenly — if it weren’t for all the pollution. At the end of a tiring day, 230 large bin bags are piled up on the hot sand, filled with dirty plastic. “A recycling company will come and pick them up tomorrow,” Owoade Yussuf, organiser of the cleanup, said. “All the plastic here will get recycled.” Sold for $500 a tonne, recycled plastic could bring $250 million to Lagos each year, he argued. And a cleaner environment could bolster other sectors.