Nigerian startup turns tires into furniture

The Philippine Star
Nigerian startup turns tires into furniture
Nigerian entrepreneur Olabanke Banjo founded a company that creates furniture using tires.
Photo courtesy of Dan Ikpoyi / The Nation

As much as 90 percent of waste generated in many low-income countries are mismanaged, according to statistics from the World Bank.

Many are disposed in unregulated dumps and waterways, or openly burned, threatening public health and safety and further damaging the already fragile environment.

Fortunately, around the world, there are those who do not take this problem sitting down.

For instance in Nigeria, some enterprising young entrepreneurs have begun setting the pace in the recycling industry, contributing to a cleaner and safer environment while at the same time earning through sustainable upcycling.

Among them is Olabanke Banjo, who established Cyrus45factory, a creative agency focused on creating bespoke avant-garde and ultra-modern furniture products using old tires.

The startup was born out of pure coincidence, she says. “In 2016, I was staying with my big sister in Lagos and her neighbor wanted to get rid of a huge pile of tires. Where they saw a problem, I saw an opportunity. Being a lover of revamping old items, I told them not to throw away the tires, that I'd figure out how to discard of them. I really didn't have any idea what I was going to do with the tires.” 

“But the creative mind in me thought I should be able to make a table out of them, because of their round shape. And if I put some wood underneath, they might look like a table. So, with the help of Google and my very creative mind, I made my first coffee table, and that's how Cyrus45factory started,” she adds.

According to Banjo, one of Cyrus45factory's goals is to minimize the damage caused by tire waste, noting that disposing them by burning creates both environmental and health hazards.

“Every year, there are about 150 billion tires disposed of around the world. So Cyrus45factory seeks to prevent them from going to incinerators, where they'd be burned, by turning them into artsy and functional household items and furniture. This is how we are providing solutions to environmental challenges,” she says.

Since 2016, Cyrus45factory has been able to upcycle close to 500 tires and has already received local and international accolades.

And while her company is only operating in Nigeria at the moment, Banjo says their method is something that can be implemented anywhere in the world.

“In the next ten years, we hope to expand to other parts of Africa, as well as to homes and offices, and ensure that everybody uses eco-friendly products,” she says, expressing her desire to show the world that products made in Nigeria could compete in international markets. —  Muneer Yaqub, The Nation (Nigeria)

This article is being published as part of Earth Beats, an international and collaborative initiative gathering 18 news media outlets from around the world to focus on solutions to waste and pollution.

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