Sawmills in Nigeria handle the enormous solid waste management challenge posed by huge heaps of sawdust being generated regularly by burning creating pollutants that have adverse effects on air quality and public health. Lagos, one of 36 states, produces over 527,000 tons of sawdust annually that is burnt. Nigeria has abundant forest reserves and there has been a significant increase in sawmills to meet the growing demand for wood for building and construction. The lumber recovery factor in most sawmills varies between 45-50% leaving 50–55% of inputs wood residues.
Cooking, a major energy-consuming activity in Nigerian households accounts for 91% of energy consumption, with over 50 million metric tonnes of fuel wood consumed annually. The increased exploitation of primary forests with no plans for replacement has contributed to its 2000 primary forests shrinking at 11% per year, the highest rate in the world. The country has an estimated population of 196m with 42m households. As at 2013, 75% of households used wood/charcoal as a source of energy; 25% used kerosene; clean fuel penetration is less than 1%. Given the large population and high percentage of biomass users, Nigeria was named the world leader in deforestation in 2005 by the FAO. With an annual deforestation rate of 3.5% and a population that is expected to reach 400m by 2050, there is a strong need for cooking solutions that lessen dependency on rapidly shrinking forests.
In contrast to the sawdust, the country doesn’t have sufficient energy to meet the demands of the growing population and economy. The building and construction sector is also struggling with adequate supply of wood.
Adequate means of disposing of sawmill wastes is lacking, hence, converting them to briquettes for domestic fuel and particle boards for construction is desperately needed.
Many households and commercial restaurants are highly dependent on firewood as their main source of energy, partly because non-bio fuels tend to be expensive, and access to affordable fuel alternatives to coal and kerosene is limited.
Enviro-gro will process waste sawdust into briquettes, reducing pollution levels and generating revenue for the local sawmiller community; this will pre-empt a shift towards more sustainable fuel in Nigeria. The company also will produce particle boards for the construction and furniture industry to reduce deforestation.