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Natural Waste Management

Using black soldier flies to upcycle household waste in Dar es Salaam.

Photo of Matthew Haden
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Waste collection in urban slum settings is often erratic or non-existent. This creates a host of problems from increased risk of flooding to the spreading of diseases. Often over 70% of the waste in low-income areas is organic waste. What we propose is using nature to solve these problems.

There is a specific type of insect called the Black Soldier Fly that lives all over the globe, but is particularly prevalent to warmer climates. These flies already exist in Tanzania naturally and can already be found in everyone's waste bins.

The Hermetia illucens or Black soldier fly (BSF) can consume as much as 70% of its own body weight in waste every day. For every one kilogram of waste (organic) it consumes, 50 grams of protein are produced. This protein can act as a feed supplement that has been fed successfully to commercial livestock. The larvae of this fly are spectacular in their ability to consume waste and renowned for their easy handling. With a simple modified bucket, every slum-dweller could put their organic waste inside a bucket and allow the BSF to naturally fly in, lay their eggs allowing the larvae to eat the waste. Once the larvae have finished, they will naturally self-harvest themselves by crawling out and looking for a place to pupate. These can then be fed to chickens or other livestock as a source of protein. Additionally, the larvae leave behind residue that is incredibly effective as a liquid fertilizer.

WHO BENEFITS?

The beneficiaries include every individual harvesting the maggots, the nearby community members with livestock, nearby farmers looking for fertilizer as well as the entire community in general. Black Solder Fly are not vectors for disease and do not spread pathogens in the same way as houseflies because they do not eat as adults. The Black Solider Fly has been seen to reduce disease-carrying housefly populations by over 90%, so the more BSF around the less annoying disease carrying houseflies.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

Cheap, low cost solutions that use material available in the area are important for improving urban slum areas. Our solutions takes into account the spacial and capital requirements of urban slums as well as the challenges associated with waste collection and disease.

Furthermore, the world’s growing population, combined with its insatiable desire for beef, poultry and fish is unsustainable. We need new ways to feed livestock. In 2010, agricultural production accounted for 70% of the global freshwater consumption with more than half going towards feeding livestock in the form of grain feeds. To grow some of the grains needed to feed our desire for meat, large swathes of Amazonian forest are being cleared. Moreover, in 2012, around 85% of global fish stocks were over-exploited, depleted, fully exploited or in recovery from exploitation.

Of the feeds currently fed to chickens, pigs and farmed fish, they all require high levels of protein. At the moment that protein comes from Soybeans or Fish Meal. The inputs to produce both of these consume natural resources and are being consumed at an unsustainable rate.

The BSF larvae have competitive protein content and can help to replace these inputs to create a more sustainable cycle. The more natural protein that we can produce to supplement the soybeans or fish meal and the more we get people accustomed to the idea of a sustainable future where nature-based solutions work to combat climate change the better everyone's future will be.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, between one and two years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am the Founder and Managing Director of The Recycler Limited, a waste management and recycling company in Tanzania - www.recycler.co.tz

I have a masters from the University of Cambridge and a B.A. Degree from the University of Stellenbosch

IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?

Our organization has been thinking over this idea for the past year. Our core business is recycling and waste management, so while this project is a form of waste management, it differs a lot from what we do. It also differs from our main maggot project, which is to do large-scale maggot production for large feed companies. We have been testing large-scale maggot production for the past year and a half and we grow hundreds of maggots every day. As a side project we have tested different household bins and both the project founders have their own household bins operating effectively at their own house. We know it works, and is easy to do. Furthermore, we know the waste sector and are able see the challenges and possibilities. Most of those challenges are in the informal settlements, where waste collection is all but non-existent. Which is why we think a low-cost bin would work in these areas. It is also in these areas where residents keep chickens and pay money for expensive feed.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?

What is a good price point that the cities poor will pay for a bin. We've done some research on this and we know that it needs to make economic sense of a very short period of time. We are hoping that we can get the price down to that of a bucket. For this we will need our own moulding machinery.

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Photo of Gary Lyon
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Hi Matthew. Do you see your solution as having application in reducing animal was in large livestock production operations, i.e. beef and pork operations?

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