Meet Mariam Lawani, the Founder of GreenHill Recycling

Meet Mariam Lawani, the Founder/CEO of Greenhill Recycling. She is our Changemaker Spotlight this week.

Mariam Lawani is an educator turned waste manager. She is a certified social sector manager from the prestigious Pan Atlantic University and a proud alumnus of the Cherie Blaire Foundation for women. She started Greenhill Recycling from the garage of her house and now has over 200 registered households who have adopted their recycling model. In a conversation with Adenike Bamigbade, Mariam gave more insights about her social enterprise and how she is winning the quest for a cleaner and climate-friendly environment. Mariam works every day to ensure that her children and their generation live in a healthier and cleaner environment.

We make recycling as convenient as possible especially as we aim to achieve a behaviour change from the process

– Mariam Lawani, CEO Greenhill Recycling

What is Greenhill Recycling and how is your work contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals?
Greenhill Recycling is a social enterprise that creates opportunities for people, especially in indigent communities to create value from their daily generated waste. With our solution, recyclable wastes such as plastic, aluminium cans, water sachets and cartons can be exchanged for groceries, household materials or even school supplies. We operate a household collection system, where
recyclables are picked up from the doorstep of the recycler/ beneficiary. We make recycling as convenient as possible especially as we aim to achieve a behaviour change from the process. Through our awareness campaigns, we promote the huge potential of responsible waste disposal, as a means to alleviate poverty and mitigate health risks in communities. We have also piloted a revolution in waste management to institutionalize waste education and climate literacy in primary schools across Nigeria. Our work revolves around SDGS 1,3,4, 8, 11, 12, 13 and 17.














How did you start the Greenhill Recycling?
Greenhill Recycling started in the garage of my house. We believed so much in our vision, so we got 180litre bins (all we could afford at the time), branded them and took to the streets, rolling them as we walked from house to house, talking to people on the need to recycle their waste. We instantly got some subscribers and the network continued to grow since then.

Why do you choose to focus on the environment? What inspired the work you do?
It was a combination of different experiences that gave birth to Greenhill recycling. One was a personal experience with flooding which almost cost me my job, and then there was again an issue of flooding at the end of the street where I live, which prevented vehicular movement and left an unpleasant sight when the flood waters receded. It then became a problem that seemed to be staring me in the face, so I began researching solutions to it. Before then, I had never really paid attention…but the more information researching threw up, the more interested I got. My eldest brother and I also shared the dream of owning a recycling facility in Nigeria, to address the waste crisis, so when he passed in 2015, I decided to pursue that dream full time.











Please share some of your success stories
We organise awareness campaigns at least once every quarter. In November of last year, we took the movement to the very hostile community of Mushin. it was a tough decision to make, however, to God be all the glory, in less than 3 hours, we recovered over 300kg of recyclable waste from the environment and registered over 200 households. The residents of the mushin community still reap the rewards of recycling.

What are the challenges you face and how do you overcome it?
We operate as aggregators/ intermediate processors in the recycling value chain and that means, we do a lot of collection, which is in itself an operational process. As such the more efficient we are able to make the process; the better it is for all involved. Some challenges faced are in the areas of physical capacity and logistics, as well as waste handling knowledge. As we raise capital, we will allocate resources to resolving physical capacity and logistics. There is a plan for this, as we have assessed that challenge as an entity, and are certain that our fundraising would assist regarding that. Presently, we are being creative regarding capacity. Logistics are another challenge, and a very important one, as the physical movement of collections into and out of our hub is a fundamental part of our role (as aggregators and intermediate-processors) in the value chain. Again, we will have the preferred solution, when we deploy raised capital. Nevertheless, we are dedicated to ensuring that such limitations as presently exist, do not limit our ability to maintain our reputation as a reliable partner.

How is your organization invested in ensuring the government and policymakers push for environmentally friendly policies to ensure Nigeria makes great progress in achieving the Global Goals?
As mentioned earlier, we organise awareness campaigns where we invite these stakeholders (manufacturers, government officials) We use several platforms to promote our work and we always tag them and mention them. I am also a corporate member of the Recyclers Association of Nigeria(RAN) and one of the gals that organisation seeks to achieve, is to get involved in policymaking as it affects the SDGS and the environment.

Where do you see GreenHill Recycling in the next 5 years?
In 5 years we will be the preferred household name in recycling across 6 states in Nigeria. We will have staff strength of over 100 and over 1million beneficiaries to our solution. We will expand our collection stream to include other recyclable wastes, such as agricultural waste and organic waste.

Please share a 5-step guide for young people who would want to do what you do.
1. Believe in yourself
2. Carve a niche for yourself and Start!
3. Research and modify as you innovate
4. Get mentors
5. Keep learning and unlearning (innovate)

What is your greatest motivation?
My children motivate me to do more, especially so that in their generation they can have healthier and cleaner environments to live in.

Please share the book that has changed your life?
The leaders’ guide to lateral thinking skills by Paul Sloane and Who moved my cheese? By Dr Spencer Johnson


You can connect with Mariam on Linkedin