CEO, Alumonk Recyclers Limited, Cajetan Okeke is among the not-so-many entrepreneurs benefitting from the increasing culture of recycling aimed at reducing the effect of climate change. Alumonk collects paper, plastics and recycles aluminum wastes.
The company’s monthly revenue from recycling paper wastes stands at N190, 505 the company has nine employees, excluding four executive members.
“Turnover all depends on amount of waste collected. If you collect more waste, you will make more money. For the month of November, we collected about 6 tons of paper. 1kg of paper is sold for N35. Getting 8000kg in November,” Okeke revealed.
To achieve this turnover, the company engaged in active sensitization and motivation of the public, in addition to collecting the wastes at the source point – which includes printing press, schools, banks, homes, and offices.
Collecting wastes from its source Okeke says reduces exposure to health and environmental hazards which most waste scavengers collecting from landfills or dump sites are susceptible to. It also allows a 100 per cent collection system, as opposed to the 60 per cent scrounged by scavengers.
Although proper recycling and upcycling of biodegradables such as paper, and non-biodegradables like plastic and metals are non-existent in Nigeria, Okeke said there is a market for crudely recycled products. Paper wastes collected by the company is sold to paper mills in Onitsha, Anambra where they are used in producing tissue papers, while pellets of plastics, and non-phorus metals – like aluminum, are purchased by Neyar Nigeria Limited, a company in Abia State, that recycles non-porous metals.
Despite its propitious bent, the business of recycling has serious health and environmental hazards, and to avoid defeating the purpose of recycling, which is to reduce damage to mother nature via pollution, extra care is required in the operation of the business.
“Our employees wear protective gloves and overall. For those that work with the machines, we ensure that everyone who operates the machines, myself included, wear full protective uniform: that includes, overalls, helmet, goggles, ear muff – to protect the ears, and face mask, to protect the employees from the flying dust and particles. Our facility is situated in a warehouse which lessens the chances of environmental pollution in our host community.”
Recently returned from a seminar of sorts, Okeke has learnt the importance of biodegradable waste in sustainable agricultural practices. Currently, Alumonk aims to deploy its facility in Delta State for the composting of biodegradable waste as fertilizers for farmers.
Okeke owes his foundation not to years of formal education, but to a lifestyle imbibed from a German Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Klaus, who emphasized the practice of recycling, while at the University of Ibadan; and a year apprenticeship with a plastic-making company in Ilorin State. Only after acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary, did the opportunity for funding appear. Okeke advise prospective entrepreneurs not to be deterred by lack of funds, rather to acquire skills and knowledge necessary, as well as have a plan ready. “Most times, we are not ready for opportunities when they come and they simply pass us by. Opportunity is like running water, it does not stop for anyone, it simply flows on, continuous, to those who recognize it.”
His opportunity came in the form of YOUWIN 3. He roped in a friend, Bernadine Obieke into the business, and since then has inducted two additional members to the executive team.