The Sustainability Centre of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, Yola, Adamawa State, has produced stools and decorative artworks with discarded papers.
Initiated in January, the project has produced over 70 stools and several decorative artworks, and it will still produce more, as the project is ongoing.
In order to study the business viability of the project, the Sustainability Centre partners with some AUN students who are studying entrepreneurship.
Speaking, Sustainability Officer, Mr. Raymond Obindu, said the project was initiated to reduce wastage and provide an alternative to AUN’s previous paper recycling project.
“We started with paper briquettes which we wanted to make in small sizes so that women can cook in their homes in place of firewood so that we can reduce deforestation, cutting down wood,” he said.
Mr. Obindu said the Centre had to stop its 2013 project in which waste paper was turned to burning fuel when it was found to be hazardous to the environment.
“It took us almost two years to know that it was not going to be viable; we discovered that this thing had some emissions that are not good…that the chemicals found in print (ink) were a health hazard, so we had to stop that.
“We tried to bleach it to clear it but you can’t bleach so much because you are now adding more chemicals, so we realised that it’s not a project to continue with, so we talked about alternatives, and the alternative was to turn it into stools.
“This is even better for us because you realise that most of these papers are supposed to be waste but we are now turning it into stools and now it’s not hazardous to the environment,” Obindu said.
He explained that the conversion process is quite easy and cost-effective.
Waste paper is collected from offices in the University by staff and students of the Centre and the stools are made by soaking the gathered paper in water for days and then pounding it to pulp.
The pulp is poured into a bucket where it takes shape and left to dry in the sun until it is completely solid. The stools are then smoothened, painted, and are ready for use.
The Sustainability Centre recently graduated over 300 internally displaced persons, IDPs, from a vocational training program executed in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR.
The women were taught how to make bags, mats, and other items from recycled plastic bags, and Mr. Obindu said that his Centre hopes to train another batch of IDPs in the near future.
He said that the project could be expanded when perfected, “For now it’s still at the commission stage so first thing to do is see that it is working and then gradually we will train local people.”
AUN, through the Sustainability Centre, is also involved in the recycling of plastic bottles, glass, and leftover food from its cafeteria.
By Zamiyat Abubakar