United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Recyclespay Educational Project

African Cleanup Initiative (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)

    The RecyclesPayEducational project is a Plastic-For-Tuition’ project with the goal of paying the tuition fees of over 10,000 vulnerable students by the year 2030. This remarkable program is targeted at low-income communities, in which parents have the opportunity to pay their ward’s school fees using plastic bottles and other recyclable materials like cans, paper, sachet, glass bottles and Nylon. It ensures children from underprivileged communities remain in school, identifying new ways to prevent plastic waste from littering our environment and promoting sustainable living amongst vulnerable groups/communities.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    The Recyclespay Educational project started in December 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria to address increasing plastic pollution and the rising number of out-of-school children which was reported to be over 13 million at that time, UNICEF puts the updated statistics at 10.5 million. The program has led to more open conversations around education delivery between schools and communities which has opened up more communities to the fact that there is a need to not only increase the number of available schools but also the quality of education through periodic parent-teacher engagement. The programme aims to adapt the Recyclespay approach to address the issue of out-of-school children in the national context in Nigeria and other African countries. The program is designed to address issues around environmental pollution and education by encouraging stakeholders in taking action by educating vulnerable communities on the need to adopt responsible waste disposal methods and set up systems in these communities which enable the exchange of waste for value. The Recyclespay programme is being executed in two phases. The first phase (1 year) concentrated on adapting the waste for tuition model to respective community contexts. Pilots were set up in selected schools. The programme aimed at contextualizing the approach for the specific setting of the respective community, identifying what works. This ensured there was a proper model in place before scaling up. The second phase focused on scaling up successful models within and outside the state, strengthen capacities of schools/communities, processes and increasing advocacy in more communities. Monitoring and research are core components of the Recyclespay program Programme to keep implementation on track and to inform advocacy and decision-making.


    In Nigeria, different studies have been conducted to monitor progress made in giving more children access to education, part of which is having money to pay for school supplies and tuition, according to UNICEF, the number of out-of-school children dropped from a disappointing 13 million during the period where the project kickstarted to 10.5 million. The reduction is attributed to progress made in new initiatives like the Recyclespay project, policy and other interventions which were introduced in recent years. After a survey done in schools, The Recyclespay project in two years has 2,172 school children as direct beneficiaries while having 50 schools on board. The project has also recovered 1,123,488 bottles & cans from the environment which amounts to 38,741kg of recyclable waste.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    Some of the projects enabling factors include friendly policy on partnerships within the waste management space, available infrastructure (Recycling hubs), funding from grants, access to the internet and tech tools for easy communication with beneficiaries and stakeholders. There has also been a lot of constraints around logistics (going for pickups from schools and communities) mainly affected by bad road networks, multiple taxations, unstable National economic growth affecting prices of goods, thuggery, the falling price of plastic waste due to trade wars and access to more financing needed to make the project outcomes more impactful etc.

    Sustainability and replicability

    Partnerships: We are strategic about the kind of partnerships formed around the project, We have partnered with recycling associations through which we have to some extent been able to automate some of the project processes without the need for our constant direct engagement, systems have been adopted to make sure waste can be collected from communities by using partner facilities closest to these communities and opening up a line of communication between partners and beneficiary communities. Project Design (Donations): The project is designed to raise funds for certain operations by enabling donations in cash or plastic waste where individuals and organisations donate household/organisational plastics to fund certain aspects of the project. The project can be easily replicated so long there is an availability of recycling institutions in the region, as the recovered plastics need to be given to companies who have a need for them before they can become a valuable product.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Project Activity had to be reviewed as directed by the National Centre for Disease Control as part of the control measures and infection prevention. School engagements were done via online mediums as schools were closed at the peak of the outbreak, physical project monitoring could not be executed as a result of lockdowns. The project also adapted its programs to integrate COVID-19 infection prevention as an integral part of program delivery, protective materials to slum communities where information on covid-19 is low. A project tagged "Recyclepay Covid-19 support project" which encouraged more community participation in recycling by doubling the price of plastic waste was introduced to help communities where access to funding for business or food was cut off as a result of lockdowns.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    06 December 2018 (start date)
    31 January 2030 (date of completion)
    African Cleanup Initiative
    Other beneficiaries

    The beneficiaries of this project are largely Women (mothers) living in vulnerable communities across the region in which we operate, they are mostly petty traders or stay at home moms who have no sustainable source of income. Key stakeholders for the project are the Municipal waste management authority, National Recycling Association, Local governments, community leaders, private sector organisations, Nonprofits and Individuals.

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