Rita Idehai, of EcoBarter in Nigeria, answers your questions!

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We're delighted to introduce Rita Idehai. Rita is Chief Executive Officer at EcoBarter, social enterprise with a mission to build a culture of responsible consumption and production across Africa. Ecobarter’s mission is to phase out the “waste” idea - they want a zero-waste world, where every material is 100% reintroduced into another production line or biodegrades. Rita is based in Nigeria and you can see her talking about EcoBarter here.


I always wanted a world without waste, but it's hard to get rid of it. What is your plan to help create this world?
creative_petal, Jabalia Prep C School, Occupied Palestinian Territory

Great question; I agree that it is hard to get rid of 'waste'. But what we can do to get a world without waste is to design our world and economy in such a way that waste from one process is usable as a resource or raw material in another process.

For example, when you are processing agricultural produce like rice, you remove the husk and bran which are the tough outer part that are non edible- in most cases, these parts are discarded as waste, but in a world without waste, the husk and bran will be used in either animal feed production or compost making industry.

So my plan is to keep showing everyone, individuals, organizations and industry leaders what is possible and how they can repurpose what they typically call waste in their space.


Some people don't understand the concept of recycling and throw their trash anywhere. These same people don't make the difference between normal skips and recycling skips. Don't you think that we should first educate people about this problem so that sustainable development and recycling projects happen with the support of a sensitive population?
trustworthy_planet, Lake Bank Pioneer Preparatory, Tunisia

I absolutely agree that the first place to begin is sensitization. With everything going on in the world, most people often push environmental needs to the background, so it is extremely important that we launch mainstream sensitization campaigns to get people to understand how recycling solves common problems of the day such as environmental degradation, poverty, preventive healthcare and even unemployment.


What best advice could one give to individuals and the government to attend to waste management properly and immediately?
motivated_land, Dawhyenya Methodist Basic School, Ghana

Hmmm... The best advice from my end will be to tell them that the Earth's resources are limited are fast depleting, so Waste management is not a problem but an opportunity to generate resources for local industries, provide decent green jobs and foster a sustainable local economy while helping us conserve the beauty of the environment for longer.


We can say no thank you to free promotional items and not use a straw in your drink order when out but there are some materials that can't be recycled or reused. For example, a tissue. My question is how can we prevent waste when a material cannot be recycled or reused?
spectacular_language, Upton Cross Primary School, UK

I think the best way to eliminate materials that can neither be reused nor recycled is by getting the government to make policies to keep them away. However, if a material can easily biodegrade, like tissues, I think they are good for the environment. The sustainable waste management hierarchy places recycling and composting side by side.


To collect waste for recycling, do you need specific machines and materials?
independent_eel, Anglican International Academy, Nigeria

You only need a means of transportation to collect waste. This can be a pushcart, or engine-powered truck and maybe a baling machine to compress your collected waste so it takes less space. But to actually recycle waste into new products, like recycled plastics or metals or paper, then you need a number of machines from crushers, to automatic washing lines, melting machines and even machines form into different new shapes.


Thank you very much for Rita for these brilliant answers!

What have you learnt that you didn't know before? And what questions do you still have?

Comments (24)

  • global-conversation.png focused_river | Jabalia Prep C School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    12 May 2021

    How can politically unstable countries contribute to the problem of global warming despite their instability?

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      focused_river's comment 14 May 2021

      Every little action counts. You as individuals even in unstable places can plant trees, reduce waste and educate your family, friends and neighbors about the need to take these seemingly little actions.

      Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png fair_pigeon | School College Pilote Sousse | Tunisia
    12 May 2021

    Thank you Rita for letting me know that some materials are good for the environment like tissues. My question is : with the division we see in Africa and weak relations between African countries how can you coordinate between them via EcoBarter? Have you done or achieved something concrete and impactful?

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      fair_pigeon's comment 14 May 2021

      I think we need to share knowledge and experiences more as Africans. And social media is a good leveller.
      My organization, Ecobarter has done a number of projects in Nigeria, and we also have digital campaigns that transcend Nigeria. So we all need to start putting Africa and the world as our target in stead of our local communities when designing campaigns.

      Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png healthy_tennis | Gaza Prep B Girls School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    12 May 2021

    Thank you Rita Idehai for answering these questions.
    My knowledge of these matters has increased, and that waste is not the end of use. Rather, it can be reused for what is useful and beneficial, such as rice as you showed us.
    My question is, how can the waste resulting from those infected with Covid 19 be dealt with, and can this virus-bearing waste be recycled ?? Because I think it will need to be sterilized before recycling, is this true?

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      healthy_tennis's comment 14 May 2021

      The world doesn't have all the details about the COVID19 virus, so it's safe to say that controlled incinerating is the best way to handle waste from infected persons.

      Reply to this comment
      1. global-conversation.png healthy_tennis | Gaza Prep B Girls School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
        Rita Idehai's comment 14 May 2021

        Well, if burning is the appropriate way for that, then is burning within certain steps commensurate with not harming the climate?

        Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png healthy_tennis | Gaza Prep B Girls School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    12 May 2021

    Thanks Rita, I benefited from the information you provided because I thought that recycling was limited to plastic until you mentioned the example of rice. Is this because we often hear about recycling for plastic more than other materials, what is the reason for that? Is it because plastic does not degrade, or is most waste of this kind, or is it easier to recycle than other elements?

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      healthy_tennis's comment 14 May 2021

      We consume a lot of plastic in our lives, so there is a highly volume of plastic waste littered in the environment.
      It doesn't help that plastic doesn't biodegrade and because it's flexible, plastic wastes find their way to the weirdest places like our ocean.

      Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png gentle_fact | Dawhyenya Methodist Basic School B | Ghana
    12 May 2021

    My question is that solar powered cars during manufacturing process causes green house emissions should we continue or not?
    This is bodering my mind

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      gentle_fact's comment 14 May 2021

      I think, human activities are always going to generate some form of green house gas. We actually need some level of these gases to keep the earth's balance but we need to keep the global temperature below 2 degree Celsius, preferably 1.5. And solar powered cars can sustainable do that when compared to the conventional fossil fuel powered cars, so I think we should go on with solar-powered cars but continue to innovate ways to reduce the greenhouse gas from it's manufacturing process to the barest.

      Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png nice_desert | Beit Hanoun Prep Girls A School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    12 May 2021

    My question is :
    A world without waste is a global ambition pursued by many countries and organizations, but there is a large percentage of the world’s population who do not care about this ambition and throw waste in public places or burn it, which negatively affects the environment, the question is how do you achieve a world free of garbage and the world's population is not Committed to this goal, are you thinking of a solution to this problem even though I know it is a big problem and it needs a lot of thought in finding a solution to it, but I am sure that you will find a solution to this problem, you are really interested in achieving this goal and I see that you are very optimistic that you will.

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      nice_desert's comment 14 May 2021

      I think we need to intensify sensitization and awareness efforts. Because there are a lot of socio-economic challenges going on in the world right now- from poverty, hunger to insecurity, people are relegating the climate crisis to the future and not paying attention.
      So we need to be able to show people that it is a problem of today and we need to provide practical solutions.

      Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png healthy_tennis | Gaza Prep B Girls School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    14 May 2021

    Who is the target group to be aware of recycling ??
    Can everyone do the recycling, or does it need skill or study to do the recycling correctly?

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      healthy_tennis's comment 14 May 2021

      Everyone can participate in recycling, as long as you consume products and generate waste.
      Your participation can be sorting your wastes at source and giving to a recycling collection company and you might also go a step further by educating someone else.
      Not everyone will get to run a recycling enterprise or lead government policy.

      Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png healthy_tennis | Gaza Prep B Girls School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    14 May 2021

    Can developing countries do the recycling promise ?

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      healthy_tennis's comment 14 May 2021

      I believe so. I think developing countries have way greater motivation.
      1) recycling creates about 6times more jobs than conventional dumping
      2) recycling reduced the volume of waste that needs to be managed and hence the cost of waste management
      3) recycling makes raw materials easily available to local manufacturing industries.
      4) People in developing countries can be easily incentivized with tokens to recycle.

      Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png healthy_tennis | Gaza Prep B Girls School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    14 May 2021

    How do plastics affect the environment? Are all plastics bad?

    Reply to this comment
    1. rita1.JPG EXPERT: Rita Idehai
      healthy_tennis's comment 14 May 2021

      I won't say all plastics are bad.
      But first, plastics are gotten from fossil fuel which are dug from the ground and require destruction of nature and natural environment in the process.
      Secondly, a lot of energy and chemicals is required in the production of plastics and some of these chemicals are toxic.
      Then, the worst of it is that plastics are flexible and versatile, so they are most used in production of consumer goods. And with about 45% of plastics being single-use, this means there is just too much plastic waste in the environment.
      Plastic wastes do not biodegrade easily.
      Under intense conditions, the break down into microplastics and find their way back into our food and water. And remember some are made with toxic chemicals, so this puts us at risk.
      When these plastics break down into microplastics and enter the ocean, fishes and other marine lives consume them and this chokes them too.
      Plastic in the soil also disrupts flow of nutrient.
      There are a lot of ways plastic affects the environment. And please, don't even attempt to burn plastics because they release harmful toxics into the atmosphere.

      Reply to this comment
      1. global-conversation.png healthy_tennis | Gaza Prep B Girls School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
        Rita Idehai's comment 14 May 2021

        It is really unfortunate, I always thought about the difficulty of getting rid of plastic, the harm of that and the extent of its impact on human health
        But now I realized that when making it also harms nature, thank you for providing me with information, that makes me strive to present the best and spread awareness around me about those things.

        Reply to this comment
  • Penketh Primary Logo adventurous_raisin | Penketh Primary School
    24 May 2021

    Thanks Rita!!! Your job sounds great.

    Reply to this comment
  • global-conversation.png splendid_satsuma | Jabalia Prep C School | Occupied Palestinian Territory
    25 May 2021

    Hello Rita, I want to ask a question: Can we, as individuals in society, completely dispose of waste without receiving any assistance from governments or from another party? And if we can, how do we do this?

    Reply to this comment

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