A few months ago, I made an unusual contact in Lunchclub, a social platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to connect members with common interests and objectives. My discussion partner was a dark man sitting in a dark corner of a dark room — slightly intimidating.
But in the course of the meeting I found him very smart and well-educated, and we became friends. Lateef Salami is an engineer from Nigeria and the founder of Bluesky Digitech. He is currently residing in Poland, where his wife, Jummy, is a teacher in a Montessori school.
Lateef told me about a project he is undertaking, which immediately appealed to me. His goal is to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced in sectors with high demand for printouts (education, healthcare, etc.), and to protect people from negative impacts on their health caused by the inks and powders prevalent in printer cartridges. None of the cartridges used in Nigeria are manufactured in Nigeria.
Millions of ink and toner cartridges are imported every year, mainly low-quality products from China, which contain inks and toners hazardous to human health. Spent cartridges are often burnt, including in fires for cooking, thus contributing to air pollution and exposing humans to inhalation of toxic substances.
Lateef’s Ecopath solution is to create a circular economy for ink and toner cartridges in Nigeria. The key activities are to:
retrieve used cartridges through buy-back schemes and other incentives;
remanufacture used cartridges using imported machinery and components. Used cartridges are cleaned, refilled with ink/toner, refitted with a new ink/toner sensor, and repackaged to be sold under the Ecopath brand name;
sell cartridges through regional sales managers covering all 36 states in Nigeria.
For the project, which is fully documented on the Ecopath web site, a funding of $15,000 was needed. It took a few months to obtain this, in a startup crowdfunding service. After that, Lateef ordered all the necessary raw-materials and machine equipment, which were shipped out of Kobe port, Japan, on December 9th. He also secured the workspace needed to run the operation in Nigeria. We can expect the project to quickly attain success.
Lateef and his family intend to depart for Nigeria in late January 2022. However, due to pandemic restrictions and other factors, additional costs have arisen.
For the Ecopath enterprise Lateef bought a used (and damaged) car in Poland, which a friend will ship to Nigeria, where it will be fixed. Because of these costs, and due to travel restrictions, €885 were missing in the total budget.
I have transferred this amount as a “Christmas gift” to support the project. So that is one problem solved.
However, I find it distressing to see this very worthwhile enterprise being run on a shoestring budget. For this reason, I am appealing to friends and colleagues, and to anyone interested in supporting it, generally, to make a donation. This can be done directly to Lateef’s account, until mid January.
Name — Lateef Salami
IBAN — PL 91 1090 1346 0000 0001 4839 6247
SWIFT — WBKPPLPP
BANK — Santander Bank Polska
It does not need to be a large sum — even small donations will help. In return for our support, we all get regular reports from Nigeria on the progress of the project.
And here are some contacts:
Lateef Salami, Founder of Ecopath, Fellow of International Sustainability Academy, ISA, Germany