ReFORM:Low Tech Community Recycling Machines

ReFORM:Low Tech Community Recycling Machines: Every ReFORM machine is a sustainable business centre providing independence

Lagos, NigeriaSydney, Australia
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Many communities in the developing world do not have access to recycling collection services. As a result recyclables become landfill with toxic consequences. Our low-cost machines, owned by family groups, will ReFORM plastics locally into saleable items adding value for customers and the community.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the value of plastic waste could be unlocked to provide financial independence for society's most vulnerable?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to the World Bank, less than 50 percent of urban populations are reached by waste management. In many developing communities collection is seen as uneconomical. These communities become the dumping ground for their wealthier neighbours. As uncollected plastic bottles languish in gutters and informal dumping grounds, a range of environmental, social, and health-related issues arise.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

As much of the problem stems from the cost of transport, we have sourced and designed a suite of machines that can be used in-community to add value to the plastic raw material. They include bottle strippers, plastic shredders, injection shot moulders, rotational moulders and pipe-making machines. Our design criteria required that they be inexpensive, easy to understand and that maintenance can be done locally. Cost ranges from $15 - $1500 making them suitable for micro-finance. Additionally, we will facilitate a channel for our customers products to ensure that they will find a much wider distribution of their products. Our ideology; Every ReFORM machine is a sustainable business centre providing financial security and idependence
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We supply simple machines that are cheap to buy through micro-finance channels. By supplying a ReFORM machine to a customer we can them help create a micro-business that will create employment for their family and friends. Plastic is either bought from scavengers ($US0.11/kilo) or collected by family members. This sorted material is then shredded on site to increase its value to $0.88/k due to its reduced volume and increased purity. It can then be sold to a recycler or to one of our local secondary processors who can then turn it into a consumer product. This process can produce multiple items from a kilo of material resulting in a wholesale value of around $40/kilo.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In Lagos, our pilot program area, there is the following inventory of resources and conditions to create the perfect environment for our project; 1) uneconomical to collect for recycling due to transport and facilities 2) abundance of uncollected plastic waste 3) high levels of unemployment 4) extreme poverty 5) under-utilised time available Creation of these micro-businesses will have an impact on each of these conditions. Some of the products our customers can produce will address local needs (building materials, bowls, etc) while others (jewellery, toys) will be more suited to sale in markets or export.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We believe the impacts to be wide spread and diverse. Apart from the income received by customers, their efforts create employment opportunities for collectors, sorters and material washers. Their income is spent in the community improving the lives of others. This in turn, reduces the welfare burden. Concern for environment and hope through entrepreneurship for future generations is anticipated. The reduction of plastic waste in the environment will reduce soil & water contamination while contributing to the reduction of disease by eliminating some habitats for rodents and mosquitoes.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

This business benefits from a duality of income streams. The first involves the selling of machines where a mark up of 60% is budgeted. The second comes from a 10% commission paid to the company by customers for sales through distribution channels sourced by ReFORM. The result is a financial win for both our customers and the company. We anticipate an NPV of $473,000USD with an IRR of 59% based on 3 year projections.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our research to date has not revealed any entity doing precisely what our business offers. This is partly because we have designed machines for this purpose. There are however, many schemes that have plastic exchange programs that have the poor collecting plastic for recycling. The Plastic Bank and WeCyclers are two examples but ultimately they are just collection services and don't give operators the opportunity to add substantial value to the plastic that they process. We believe that our project is unique it the sense that it is creating micro-businesses out of this epic problem.
Team

Founding Story

Lee was searching for a project in a Social Entrepreneurship course to attach to when the 'fundamental truth' about plastic pollution occurred to him. An inequity became very apparent. In much of the developed world, we use plastics to package goods,carry and preserve food, and transport water. Our embrace of plastics is largely mitigated by our ability to recycle these materials after use. Plastics are also ubiquitous in the developing world, where clean water and sugary beverages are often sold in plastic bottles. Yet many developing communities suffer from a lack of effective waste management services, and access to recycling services is deemed uneconomical. The solution, he reasoned, was to localise the recycling of plastic.

Team

Lee Wynyard -CEO and product designer An industrial designer consulting to the Sustainable Materials Centre at UNSW. He has been involved in technology assessment and transfer for the last 25 years. Jackie Colmar -COO Jackie holds a degree in International Relations and has worked for nonprofit organisations in Shanghai, Texas and Melbourne. Akin Sanda -Legal Provides access to the market and legal support for the enterprise in Nigeria.
About You
About You
First Name

Lee

Last Name

Wynyard

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, NSW, Sydney

Country where this project is creating social impact

, LA, Lagos

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Regional government, Customers.

Supplemental
Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

This project was initiated within the Social Entrepreneurship course for Copenhagen Business School. The business plan was one of ten finalists in that competition.

It was later judged to be one of the three winning plans and was awarded a small cash prize to encourage the continuation of the project.

Where have you learnt about the competition?

Knowledge of the competition came from one of the other participants in the CBS course who's project was not eligible but thought mine would be ideally placed for consideration.

Tell us about your partnerships:

Our project centres around the placement of low-cost, low-technology recycling equipment into families or community groups in communities who are underserviced by recycling services. Our machines and support give our customer partners the opportunity to take a raw material with negative value in the environment and create value and income while achieving secondary social impact for the community.We'll also build machines using local manufacturers

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

We see the major issues to be;

A) ensuring we can build the machines and deliver them at a price that is affordable for your partners. We have designed the machines with this in mind and feel confident this can be acheived.

B) need to form relationships with distribution channels to ensure placement of the output products of the machines. Part of our model includes making sure our customers products find their way to market delivering for them reasonable profits.

C) establish relationships with the scavenger 'lords' who control the tips.

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