Waste as Wealth: A Tale of Shanghai and Lagos

Shanghai and Lagos have two things in common. One is that both are the largest city in terms of population in their respective countries and two is the size of the waste that goes to their landfill or dumpsite. Although there is a wide disparity in their population according to the figure from a 2015 publication of United Nations World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision. The publication puts Shanghai’s population as at 2014 to be 22,991,000 and Lagos as 12, 614,000 while back in 2012, a New York Times publication stated that according to some estimates, population of Lagos was 21 million.

We will overlook the disparity in population since that is not the purpose of this article and focus on the waste similarities of both cities in a bid to look at how each city manage/value their waste.

Shanghai

According to worldatlas.com, Laogang landfill in Shanghai, China receives up to 10,000 tons of municipal solid waste daily and this is half of the city’s total waste (according to the Shanghai Municipal Government). This waste is piled 20 meters high and the methane gas from the landfill is being converted to annually generate 102,189 MW-hours of green energy to power 100,000 homes.

Lagos

Considering the same scenario at Olusosun landfill in Lagos, Nigeria, Olusosun receives up to 10,000 tons of garbage per day according to exploredia.com and there is no record of green energy generation from the landfill powering any homes, industries, or government parastatal. Waste in Olusosun is said to be piled 18 meters high according to a joint publication by Lagos Waste Management Authority and Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project.

Landfill gas capture and utilization project in Shanghai

While the generation of green energy is dependent on the type of waste a landfill receives, the same publication stated that there is a plan by the State Government to capture landfill gas at Olusosun as an overall strategy for the Lagos State Solid Waste Management Plan. Therefore, the argument that the waste at Olusosun cannot generate power has been ruled out. Also, to affirm this position, the recent fire outbreak (in March 2018) at the landfill justifies the fact that there are gases trapped in Olusosun which can be captured for power generation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the government of Lagos State is urged to quicken the landfill gas capturing project at Olusosun in order to avert further human and economic damage which the landfill gas has already started causing as well as not squander this important free resource that can be utilized for domestic and industrial gains.

Note: The original version of the article was published on Waste Watch Africa website at this link.

Suhaib Arogundade

Chief Waste Eliminator at WasteWatch Africa
Suhaib Arogundade is an enthusiastic young professional who has interest in commodity trading, mindset redesigning, and waste management research in Africa. Suhaib is the Chief Waste Eliminator at WasteWatch Africa where he leads a team of young talents with a mission to eliminate waste from the streets of Africa by 2025

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