You Can Start The Lucrative Electronic Waste Recycling Business With N20,000

You Can Start The Lucrative Electronic Waste Recycling Business With N20,000


By Seun Oladunjoye

e-wasteThe return on investment is substantial, as recycling is about storage – in the sense that if you are realizing N5 on a kg, for five million kilogram, you have N25 million. That is to say it depends on the quantum of the waste materials, so the return on investment is good but you must understand the dynamics of the business.

One of the common characteristics of developing countries is their inability to recycle the waste that they produce from different items they use, including electronic gadgets. These items are found littering and polluting the environment without anyone thinking of doing something about it.

Fortunately, this presents a great business opportunity for the entrepreneurial minded individuals who can start a business to recycle them.

The metals derived from recycled electronic wastes are valuable and have huge demand from manufacturers of the original items both locally and internationally, and that makes the business lucrative.

SuccessDigest spoke with one of the leading electronic products recyclers in the country with over 20 years experience who revealed the huge business opportunities in the industry that are virtually begging people to exploit.

He is Engineer Haroon Adekilekun, the Managing Consultant, Electronic Waste And Metal Recycling International Company/Chairman, Maintenance System Consultant.

According to Engineer Adekilekun, you don’t need to have millions of Naira to start the business as there are different levels with different startup capital requirement to enter the industry with. With as little as N20,000 you can actually get involved in the industry and start building your business up to eventually become a supplier of valuable metals from recycled electronic wastes to manufacturers both home and abroad.

Enjoy the interview!

What Does Electronic Waste Recycling Entail?
First and foremost electronic waste is any waste from electronic appliances that have reached their life span and have become junk. These wastes can be any device that uses current to work or that is pluggable like computers, photocopiers, pressing irons, luminal bubs, refrigerators, air-conditioning, among others.

So, electronic waste recycling entails taking these so-called wastes through series of processes and eventually turning them into yet another useful raw material for the production of components for the initial electronic device.

What Are The Processes Involved In Electronic Waste Recycling?
Electronic waste processing starts from the haulage stage. This means picking, arranging or assembling the electronic wastes to a place where they can be taken to their recycling sites. The collection of various electronic junks from homes, offices, dump-sites, road-sides and so on is the first aspect of the processing.

After collecting them you move them to the recycling site. At the recycling site we classify the wastes into kinds of sections – the first is the electronic with heavy machines, another is the ones with medium machines, and the last is the ones with light machines.

After sectionalizing them, a lot of them still have peculiarities, so we have to separate the ones with different peculiarities to one side and put the ones with other peculiarities on another side.

After doing that in the ware house, there is need for us to keep them very well and make a kind of provision for them to be water proofed – disallowing water from getting in contact with them. This is because all electronic wastes, 90 percent of them, are classified as hazardous materials, having lots of lead and zinc contents and heavy metals, which are very injurious to human health.

So, because of that you have to keep them such that water will not get in contact with them and wash the melted elements, which are very injurious to life, into the land from where they percolate through the soil. These metals in the soil can also be passed to plants that grow in such soils, and also to animals, including humans who feed on plants from such soils.

Now, you move to the workshop stage – here, the waste undergoes two processes. The first process is disassembling, while the second process is partial refurbishing.

At the refurbishing (repair) stage, the professional will test some of them that are still valuable and can work for six months or one year before disassembling them.

The disassembling stage is a place of total breakdown of the parts of the electronics. From this process you can separate the plastic, glass, metal, lead, copper, and circuit boards from the servers or CPUs and aluminum parts, as virtually all electronic appliances comprise these.

Finally, you move to the recycling stage itself. So, you have a quantum of lead which you take to the oven – mind you, there are three major classifications of heavy machines called oven. We have the rotary, furnace, and the crucible.

The rotary is used to melt metals at a very high temperature of about 650 degree Celsius with a view to turning the lead, copper or aluminum into liquid and be cast into ingots of different mode sizes in kilograms, depending on their density.

For instance, the mode of lead can be up to 20kg to 30kg and the size will not be up to 6 by 4 inches – it is very heavy, but that of aluminum, even if you have 10 by 8 inches, you can only achieve about 4kg; as they have different mode for each.

After casting the materials it will then be sold either locally or internationally to the manufacturers of automobile, electronic appliances, plastics, glass, among others.

To be specific, we have three major machines or plants used to melt or smelt the electronic waste materials. They are the rotary, which rolls when it is powered, but there is fire inside it; the crucibles, which is in form of pot and you fire it with two or more Indian technology black-oil-horse-power blower or German technology which doesn’t need black oil; and lastly, the furnace.

So, it is when you fire them with a view to turning them into liquid form, then you turn them into the modes with an automatic technological processes referred to as chain conveyor. With this you can have about 150 to 200 modes and a cooling system where the materials pass through. It is really a process of electronic waste recycling!

Can These Electronic Wastes Be Still Recycled To Produce Their Initial Forms?
No, the system doesn’t work like that. For instance, if a motor is recycled, you cannot get the initial brand exactly. You just have to recycle to get the iron aspect of it, the glass aspect, the metal aspect of it, among others. This is because all these parts assembled together in the automobile or electronic industry are being franchised to different companies. There are some companies in the automobile manufacturing that produce the body, some produce the dashboard; even in the phone industry, there are some companies that produce the screen, some produce the plastic or housing, some produce the chips, some produce the circuit board components, among others, and they are therefore assembled together to make the phone. So, you just have to send the different modes of the raw materials you have recycled to these companies and you get paid.

What Are The Business Opportunities For Someone Who Wants To Go Into Electronic Waste Recycling Business?
In the electronic waste business we have the small scale, medium scale, and the large scale recycling plants.

The small scale is the sector where we have people like the scavengers who pick the electronic wastes and sell to the recyclers.

The medium scale comprises those who have at their disposal about N500,000 to get some medium machines like the crucible and a piece of land to site their plant. From the medium scale operators can build their businesses to the large scale.

The last scale or business opportunity in the electronic recycling industry involves those who use rotary or furnace machines and have large warehouses where they store the wastes. This level can be started with about N1 million and above.

You can actually get involved in this industry from any level. You can start from the lowest level by getting the electronic wastes or junks and selling them to the medium or large scale players. You don’t have to be going to waste dumps yourself to find electronic wastes, but you can set up a collection centre where you buy from scavengers and other people who have damaged electronic gadgets to sell as scrap. You can make good money from this too, from where you can upgrade your business to being a medium player.

With How Much Can The Business Be Done Minimally?
Interestingly, I can boldly say that with N20,000, you can start in a small scale. What you just need to get is a cart, boots, nose guards, and hand gloves. Then you need cash to take care of the logistics such as transferring the wastes to the recycling site, and a small container to store the wastes.

So, with this minimum startup capital you can be in the small scale level where you get the electronic wastes with the help of scavengers and then sell to those who can afford the recycling process. Meanwhile, the joy of the electronic waste recycling business is that there is a chain where someone who is not financially buoyant enough can join with N20,000 and after you have grown, getting your recycling machines won’t be any problem at all.

Again, you don’t have to be the one to find the waste from refuse dumps; you can get people to pay to source it for you. You can equip them with the necessary tools to work with; get a warehouse, and after you might have had quantum of the electronic wastes of about four to five tons, you sell them to the major buyers and get paid. Though, the startup capital here might be more than the minimum capital of N20,000 because of the involvement of more hands to get such large quantum of wastes, but I will say a positive result is assured.

How Lucrative Is The Business?
Well, to the best of my knowledge, if you put enough efforts into doing the business and at the same time understand the dynamics of the project, it is lucrative. But if you don’t understand the numerous dynamics it involves, you will be at a loss. For instance, if you don’t understand the dynamics of the business you can buy one kilogram material that is worth about N100 for N150 – which is the amount major users of the material will pay you.

Also, the scavengers are very crafty as to take advantage of those who do not know much about the market. So, by the time you use N100,000 to acquire the waste resources, including the overhead costs, where you were being required to supply at N95,000, you know what it means. But when you have the needed knowledge of the dynamics of the business, you can even buy the waste materials between the rates of N70,000 to N90,000 depending on the areas.

Mind you, knowledge is very keen to electronic waste recycling or any other recycling business and the knowledge referred to can actually be gotten from training by professionals in the business.

How Is The Return On Investment Like?
The return on investment is substantial, as recycling is about storage – in the sense that if you are realizing N5 on a kg, for five million kilogram, you have N25 million. That is to say it depends on the quantum of the waste materials, so the return on investment is good but you must understand the dynamics of the business.

Where Is The Market And How Is The Market Like?
To the best of my knowledge, there is no valuable waste, let alone electronic waste, as at today, that does not attract both local and international market. Local markets are waiting for them, because there are so many recycling companies competing for those waste resources – not only electronic wastes, but any valuable waste resources ranging from plastics, copper, even to aluminum. The demand is high, so if you have any of these wastes and you want to sell, just call on any recyclers like us, I am sure that you will be paid immediately. So, that is to tell you that the market is always lively and buoyant.

Challenges And Possible Solutions
To start with, the first challenge of electronic waste recycling business is finance, because you basically need land to keep your wastes. Aside that, you need money to move up and down to get the raw materials, but the major challenge for people like us is operation of recycling plants.

For instance, an average furnace of about six tons cost $150,000, which is about N30 million for plant alone – though, we have the smaller ones that cost about $40,000, depending on the capacity. With all these, you will still want to have a warehouse, which is like a factory house to store the wastes – you can now see that the major challenge is capital.

The second challenge is manpower. But it is very unfortunate to tell you that among all the trainers and engineers from our institutions of higher learning in the country, we don’t have human resources in the electronic waste recycling industry – as the expatriates, Indians to be precise, have hijacked the industry and recently the Chinese are coming with their own technology.

From my survey, the major recycling companies – 95 to 98 percent have been taken up by the expatriates. This challenge now makes you to hire the so-called expatriates to do your work for you, but you can only hire the Nigerians as labour force and their demands are high because of their exposure to our society norms of capitalism.

The third challenge is about our cultural or psychological mindset that the country is not meant for industrialization or that the sector belonged to expatriates, and that others cannot succeed in the electronic or other wastes recycling business.

The forth challenge is that of the mindset of our financial outfits. The banks that are supposed to help are not doing so, but they are ready to bankroll the expatriates instead of the indigenous industries.

This is because they believe expatriates are more serious, but that is no so. Expatiates bring their money in at zero or one percent rate. That is to say, when they bring $1 million here, it becomes N200 million, so they can buy our lands, buy our people up and take advantage of things.

For instance, the very next company to me, owned by an Indian man told me that one of our banks is begging him to take loan of three to four percent interest rate, but this same bank wants to give me 22 percent. Also, from experience, if they are financing a plant, instead of using the plant as collateral, Nigerian banks will ask for another collateral or borrow you at 150 percent – that is to say, you are buying a machine of N8 million for me and you are asking me to bring an additional collateral of N12 to N16 million. This and other mindsets of our bankers will not give room for our industries to survive.

From my experience and survey, if the resources, like the aluminum ingots, lead ingots, copper ingots and so on, being fed into the recycling industry own majorly by the expatriates are used here after recycling instead of sending them to Europe; they are enough for us to set up mega electronic and automobile companies in Nigeria. This is solely because those are the major engineering materials needed to manufacture.

There must be the establishment of specialized infrastructural or industrial banks – this I saw in China when I went to buy a recycling machine. So, Nigeria should setup purely industrial banks with all the needed resources to manage them, these banks will be able to cater for the ABC needs of a recycling project.

Nigerian government should build an enabling environment for industries to operate by reducing the tax for indigenous industrialists. There can also be tax free environment for the first few years. Encourage them to go into it by providing them leased lands – as at today, some state governments are inviting expatriates to build recycling companies on their lands at the expense of their own indigenes.

Another one is that there should be legal framework that points to the standard of the recycling operations. Some will register at CAC and the lawyer will issue them certificate, but nobody cares whether you practice or not. So, there should be a body that scrutinizes the industry.

Again, for us to have sustainable professionals who have expertise in the electronic waste recycling industry there is need for the country to have Industrial Institutions where engineering graduates from our tertiary institutions can be retrained.

How Does Phone Swap Also Fit Into The Electronic Waste Recycling Business?
From research, phone swap simply means changing used mobile phones with new ones by adding little money and it is mainly the motivational aspect of recovery in electronic waste recycling. This recovery is of two types – recovery of raw materials from the users and the second recovery take place in the recycling process itself.

So, the phone swap aspect is motivational recovery in nature in order to get those junks with a view to getting some different parts of the initial electronic gadgets. So, as another business opportunity, you can setup this motivational recovery aspect from where you get your raw materials.

What Prompted You To Go Into The Recycling Industry?
Well, I can say it is passion for professionalism! During my National Youth Service Corp year, I was passionate to be alone, to be a thinker, to be an inventor, and to be an entrepreneur. I started as a young civil engineering graduate in the early 90s in core area of building engineering where I also chose maintenance, and I setup a company.

I was involved in renovation and building jobs that I got from estate valuers at Victoria Island, Kareem Ikotun, and other areas. After this, dynamism set in and I went into road construction, where I was doing well too, despite lots of challenges. Then I thought of what to do again, so I ventured into computer repair. To do this, I engaged engineers in 1994 to 1996 as a major contract for the then UBE, Marina. Again, dynamism came when competitors came into the business and the market prices were crashed.

Also, for survival to be sustained, I moved into facility management – total facility management so to say, where I manage the property, what exists in it, and its environment. Eventually, the Lagos State government called me as a consultant to manage some major roads for her.

So, I began the job in earnest by repairing the roads, cleaning the drainages, installing security lights on the roads, monitoring the lights, doing the surveillance by installing CCTV on the roads, employing securities to monitor it, planting flowers, maintaining the flowers, managing the car parks and so on. After I was given the job, one of the challenges now led to my involvement in electronic waste recycling – as I was managing the roads, I was as well managing the wastes swept from the drainages, the roads and all the adjoining buildings.

So, there was a particularly motivational and gigantic building at the extreme end of my road in Victoria Island known as Mobil House, which I must also manage their wastes. As I was managing their wastes around there, including those of the banks there, which made the job a specialized facility management one; at that particular building I was told that there was a particular waste I cannot manage.

After inquiring, I was told that the wastes are electronic wastes and that they are hazardous to health, as they cannot be thrown in the dumpsites or given to anybody – it is against international law.

Meanwhile, as an engineer, I am aware of the health hazard of electronic waste and the litigation of going against the international law, or else I will have to take the electronic waste recycling as a job.

So, I consulted Lagos State government which gave me the first job of total facility management. I openly informed my employer that I can manage it and I was given a go ahead. So, I put a proposal forward and defended it, which proved me as knowing what to do. I traveled to Singapore with a view to understudying electronic wastes recycling – there I toured, studied their machines and observed lots of processes. Then I came back home, bought machines and started my own electronic waste recycling industry on my private land.

What Have You Been Able To Achieve From This Business?
I will firstly admit that I have achieved satisfaction because I was able to work for almost 20 years as a private body without being employed by anybody and have been able to provide employment for people – being independent and entrepreneurial, so to say. Secondly, I was able to setup an institution of professionalism, like this electronic waste industry where system works. Thirdly, which is most important to me over the years, is that I was able to acquire knowledge to be highly experienced. Well, I’m happy about my experience, in the sense that because of my wide experience and exposure, I can perform above average in any field I find myself.

Now, in terms of financial aspect, I am financially okay and stable – I have my buildings, cars, among others valuables and lastly, at my age now, I have been able to train my children in institution of higher learning. My first son is a civil engineer; my daughter has Masters in financial study, others in architecture and medicine.

Your Advice For New Entrants In The Electronic Or Other Wastes Recycling Business?
Today, I will advise the younger generation to take their destiny in their hands by having an independent personality in their area of professional practice and economic survival in a nation like Nigeria.

At the moment, I can forecast that between 2015 and 2035 (20 years time), there will be high opportunities for professionalism – because there are lots of problems waiting earnestly for solution. So, the younger generation should be consistent, persistent, and should add perseverance to their character. I can say the sky will be their limit and they will be reckoned with in future to come if they develop these qualities.

If you are interested in the electronic or other waste recycling business, you must strive to thoroughly understand the dynamism of the business, get trained by experts in the field and start little.

Have electronic wastes to sell?
You can contact Electronic Waste And Metal Recycling International Company at:

1 Olusanya street, off Kolawole Shonibare street by Coker road, Ilupeju , Lagos State.
Km6, Ikorodu-Sagamu road , Tamalo Village , Close to Monarch Steel Mill , Ogijo , Ogun State.

Tel: +234-8037657701, 8022236336, +234-1-7416249