Lafarge’s Geocycle: Creating Jobs, Alleviating Poverty Through Waste Management

The United Nations estimates sustainable development initiatives could create 60 million new jobs globally, with recycling being one of the eight key sectors of growth. Currently, an estimated 15-20 million waste pickers earn a living from scavenging discards. These workers endure dangerous conditions and are outcasts by society, yet they provide essential services to their community and our environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from waste. 

Formalizing this sector offers huge opportunities to improve sanitary conditions, increase material recovery and alleviate poverty in the world’s developing cities. As a leading provider of industrial, agricultural and municipal waste management services; Geocycle Nigeria is playing an essential role in promoting the transition towards a more extensive circular economy and a zero waste future. 

Providing waste management solutions in a future-oriented way requires disruptive thinking, active engagement and collaboration. Geocycle rethinks waste challenges to provide innovative ways to manage it. 

One very important means through which Geocycle Nigeria fulfils this commitment is by working with key stakeholders to find the most sustainable solutions to their waste, turning it into a circular resource and diverting it from landfills. Geocycle’s approach ensures recycling as well as the recovery of resource value inherent in waste. 

Partnering with industries, service companies and municipalities to help them achieve their environmental commitments, Geocycle employs the method of “preprocessing” and “co-processing” to offer an environmentally friendly solution for handling waste.

According to Daniel Adedokun, Head of Geocycle Nigeria, employing these methodologies enables the company to recover energy and recycle materials from different sources of waste such as biomass, shredded tyre and industrial wastes.

“Co-processing is the use of waste as a raw material, or as a source of energy, to replace natural mineral resources and fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum and gas in the cement manufacturing process,” Adedokun says.  

“During co-processing, the mineral part of the waste replaces primary mineral materials such as limestone, clay or iron and the combustible part provides the energy needed for cement manufacturing. As a result, 100% of the waste input is recycled and recovered without producing residue. Currently, Geocycle converts more than 80,000 tons of waste per year into alternative fuels and alternative raw material (ARM).”

Before this waste byproduct can be used directly for co-processing in the cement kilns; it must undergo a preparation process called preprocessing. The company Head says this step delivers a stable product that complies with the technical specifications of cement production and guarantees that environmental standards are met. 

“Our key focus has been on co-processing of biomass waste which not only helps minimize our carbon footprint but also is a key driver for clean and prosperous local communities. We source local agriculture residues which cannot be otherwise managed and also help create alternative livelihood sources. All activities centring on collecting, cleaning, transporting and treating biomass waste continued to sustain roughly 4,000 jobs in the various local communities with a large volume of biomass supplied to the plants at Ewekoro, Sagamu and Ashaka,” he added. 

Geocycle’s ambition is to become the biggest private sector contributor to sustainable production and waste management in Nigeria and offers highly specialized waste management services and benefits from its global footprint as well as its solid financial position. 

“We have invested over 10 million Swiss Franc in alternative fuel projects over the past 4 years through facilities, which are being utilized to mop up societal waste to positively impact the environment,” he said.

To help further Geocycle’s efforts to achieve a zero waste future through preprocessing and co-processing, the company invested in waste recovery and treatment platform at its Ewekoro plant, commissioned in 2020 and now fully active.

“The new platforms help us efficiently and effectively prepare solid wastes such as biomass, shredded tyre, industrial waste into the homogeneous mix before feeding it into the cement kiln for destruction through co-processing,” he noted. 

Geocycle’s production process begins with the company’s sales team finding waste streams that have the proper chemical and physical characteristics, and then prequalifying the samples in its labs and shredding platforms. 

The company has continued to forge alliances that will guarantee the long-term availability of renewable materials following the circular economy model. It also partnered with SMEs, and notable Pharmaceutical companies, and used tyres pyrolysis companies in the efforts to support efficiently managing their wastes. 

“We are leading the way towards a new approach to waste management, one that delivers improved sustainability outcomes. Thus we are also focusing on addressing the environmental impact caused by littering of used whole tyres. In 2021, we developed three small and medium-scale enterprise (SME) partnerships that operated tyre shredding facilities. This initiative has helped address a key waste management challenge and created several new jobs,” he stressed. 

According to him, the company has also received regulatory approval from the Department of Petroleum Resources to offer waste management services to the oil industries and has successfully co-processed waste from the oil industry at the Ewekoro plant. 

Its existing partnership with the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) of Nigeria, made up of 19 FMCGs is tackling the quantities of waste that ends up in landfills by providing eco-friendly waste management solutions to members of the alliance. 

He added that discussions between Geocycle, regulators and other players in the sector are in an advanced stage to provide sustainable waste management solutions. “Geocycle is expanding its sustainable waste management solutions year on year and is contributing to a cleaner environment and supporting hundreds of employment opportunities along the value chains of waste management.”

In less than four years, Geocycle Nigeria has already obtained a wide base of clients in all of the sectors mentioned above, including Nestle; a global giant in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industrial sector. These clients have wide-ranging waste management needs, and the company’s teams offer them its unique solution.

Geocycle is Nigeria’s first full-fledged professional waste management service provider, handling wastes from different sectors in a safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Geocycle’s parent company, Lafarge Africa is one of Nigeria’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of cement and mineral components. The company operates 4 manufacturing plants spread across Sagamu & Ewekoro (South West), Ashaka (North) and Mfamosing (South). Lafarge Africa is a subsidiary of Holcim Group. Holcim Group is the world’s leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions. The Group is committed to building progress for people and the planet in line with the four pillars of its sustainability strategy including Climate and Energy, Circular Economy, Environment and Community. The Group holds majority and minority interests in more than 70 countries on all continents and employs almost 90,000 people.