Wecyclers works by employing locals who pedal door-to-door on modified bikes that pull large carts with collection bags. They collect recyclables from subscribers’ homes and weigh them; subscribers receive points via text message for every kilogram of recyclables. Points can be redeemed for food and consumer goods, such as cellphones and kitchen items.

Recyclables are returned to one of Wecyclers’ two plants, where they’re sorted, processed, and bought by recycling companies to make mattresses and pillow stuffing, among other things. Adebiyi calls it “‘everyone wins’ recycling.”

Working closely with the Lagos Waste Management Authority, Wecyclers soon plans to sign up 1 million homes across Nigeria’s most populous city, and even more elsewhere in the country. In doing so, Wecyclers estimates job creation of 500,000 direct and indirect jobs, taking into account cyclists, processing-plant workers, and those needed to construct bicycles. “The idea is to make opportunities for people to plug into our model and create those jobs,” Bilikiss says.

Wecyclers’ innovative model earned the 2013 Intel Environment Award.

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