ReBin transforms waste into energy and fertilizers

ReBin transforms waste into energy and fertilizers

It is a pragmatic solution that this Swiss foundation brings to the sustainable management of waste in Benin.

Since 2017, the foundation has been recycling organic waste collected from households to transform it into energy and fertilizers for the benefit of the same populations.

“We intend to clean up the cities and countryside of Benin, while providing new services that simplify the lives of people,” explains Sewaï Mardochee, director of operations of the waste recovery center of ReBin foundation to agridigitale.

ReBin is a compound English word “Reuse your Bin”. The municipality of Toffo was chosen by the foundation to host the experimental phase of the project.

Reuse your waste

Yet, more than 500 households have been sensitized to bring the waste directly to the foundation’s site in Toffo. In return, they receive one of the products of the center namely biogas, compost, drinking water, effluent or fish.

“Those who want, instead exchange their waste for money,” says Mordechee. Thereby, for 10kg of waste brought, the person receives 250 CFA; the quantity of products given in exchange by the foundation is based on this principle and the populations seem to be delighted.

The use of biogas

Adeline Awadedji doesn’t bring waste to the center; but she regularly goes there to get biogas. Compared to charcoal or firewood, this method of cooking really simplifies her life, she claims.

She uses it for cooking food in her household, but also for her small business. “When I take my bag of biogas of 400 CFA, I can use it for about 5 hours”, says the seller of yovo dokô (dougthnuts made from wheat flour).

“The 5 hours are obviously spread over several days, it all depends on what I prepare”, she adds.

Settling down in Toffo in November 2017, ReBin foundation very soon sought Songhaï’s expertise for the installation of bio-digesters, the waste grinder, the fish ponds and also for the training of the staff.

Songhaï, a significant partner

Since then, the two partners have been working in symbiosis for the success of the project, which should extend to Benin’s 77 municipalities.

Like Songhaï, ReBin foundation is also part of the logic of integration of its activities, in order to complete the cycles of transformation of raw materials. This beautiful experience could be exported beyond Benin borders and benefit all Africa.

 Publié le : 16 Aout 2019  Mise à jour le : 16 Aout 2019

‘Trash is gold’ as Benin community turns waste into biogas

‘Trash is gold’ as Benin community turns waste into biogas

Garbage has never smelled so sweet for a small village in southern Benin since it opened a pilot waste treatment centre to turn household rubbish into gas — and cash.

“Our trash has become gold. We no longer throw it into the bush. We use it to make money,” beams Alphonse Ago, who lives next to the centre in Houegbo village.

ReBin, a Swiss foundation for sustainable development, built the 1.3-hectare (3.2-acre) facility, which every week turns around six tonnes of organic waste into 100 cubic metres of biogas — saving some 164 tonnes of wood from being used to make charcoal.

The centre, which opened late last year, also plans to produce around 400 tonnes of organic fertiliser per year.

So far, around 100 households in the area have signed up to the scheme to deposit their waste at the centre on a daily basis.

Every 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) of waste fetches 250 CFA francs (around 50 euro cents, 57 US cents), paid either in cash or credit — to buy biogas.

The fuel is a precious commodity in a rural region where electricity remains scarce.

Agnes Avoce, a shopkeeper and mother of five, proudly straps a large plastic bag of the gas onto her back.

Biogas, she says, is much cleaner and more efficient for cooking than charcoal — which “darkens the pots and makes me sick” — and she is more than happy to make the switch.

Avoce is not alone; five other women are waiting to pick up gas.

“There are queues here since we opted for biogas,” another customer says.

– ‘Goldmine’ –

Symphorien Adonon, 35, drops off a week’s worth of carefully sorted waste, smiling as he pockets his cash payment.

“Now I have enough to do the shopping for dinner,” says Adonon, who drives a motorcycle taxi.

The centre has treated more than 20 tonnes of waste since it began operations late last year.

In addition to the customers’ household waste, there is also rubbish collected by a local non-government organisation, Astome.

The NGO’s chief, Florent Gbegnon, says he used to collect it on a push cart, but he now uses a tricycle provided by the centre.

“It’s a huge relief,” he says as he dumps a load of pineapple skins. “Pushing the cart was a real burden.”

It was the massive amounts of waste such as pineapple skins that originally caught the attention of ReBin’s founder, Mark Giannelli, and inspired him to set up the treatment centre in Houegbo.

“I saw this not as a problem, but as an opportunity, and I thought it was a goldmine,” Giannelli told AFP.

Benin is Africa’s fourth-biggest exporter of pineapples. And in Houegbo, which has one of the busiest markets in the region, local sources estimate that more than a tonne of waste is generated every day from that fruit alone.

Mark Giannelli told AFP that he had been searching for a potential site for his project in Benin’s West African neighbours Ghana and Togo.

But it was the enthusiasm with which the locals embraced his idea that finally convinced him to set up the waste treatment centre here, he said.

– ‘Source of happiness’ –

The goal is to establish “a real economy that serves the population and protects the environment,” he says. “We have to take the problems locally and adapt them to local solutions.”

Once the necessary expertise has become more firmly established in Houegbo, Giannelli hopes to extend the project to larger municipalities and let local entrepreneurs run it.

The centre’s director, Sewai Mardochee, suggests duplicating it in all of Benin’s 77 municipalities.

“We can then create jobs and clean up our living environment by reducing the use of firewood and coal,” he said.

Nicolas Hounje, a retired official, has put himself forward to take over the company.

“We did not know here that garbage can become a source of happiness,” he says.


afp – Wedensday 22nd August 2018

Cooking using my waste ?

Cooking using my waste ?

Biogas, what is it?  

Biogas is a type of biofuel that is naturally produced from the decomposition of organic waste in the absence of oxygen (also known as anaerobic digestion). Biogas consists mainly of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) with the exact proportions depending on the type of feedstock being digested and processing techniques. The amount or volume of biogas is normally expressed in ‘normal cubic meters’ (Nm3), a common unit used in industry to refer to gas emissions or exchange. The energy value of biogas varies between 4.5 and 8.5 kWh/Nm3, depending on the relative amounts of methane, carbon dioxide and other gases. This corresponds roughly to half a liter of diesel oil or 5.5 kg of firewood. Both methane and carbon dioxide are odorless. Yet, the biogas can contain a variety of Sulphur compounds, responsible for an unpleasant odor. In terms of its constituents the biogas is comparable to natural gas, which is composed of as much as 99% methane. The major difference is that the methane present in the natural gas has fossil origins. Biogas can be used to replace natural gas in many applications such as cooking, electric generation or heat production. If the biogas is upgraded or purified, the so called biomethane can be used as vehicular fuel.

So how does it work? 

The biogas production-and-use cycle is continuous. Organic materials like manure, crop residues, wastewater sludge or domestic waste are fed into a biogas digester.  Within the digester, fermentation of biodegradable materials is taking place slowly (it takes between 14 and 40 days) producing biogas. Contrary to popular beliefs, biogas plants are not filled with pressurized explosive gases, the reservoirs are filled mainly with wastewater and only the top of these reservoirs contains gas. Therefore, if handled and maintained properly, biogas digesters are not dangerous infrastructures. During the anaerobic digestion, maintaining a constant adequate temperature as well as using water to maintain the bacteria culture are critical factors for maximizing the gas production.


What comes out of a biogas digester?

According to our partner (B)energy, 15 kg of cow dung (or organic kitchen waste[1]) and the same amount of wastewater produce around 1 Nm3 of biogas, with which one can cook for approximatively 3 – 4 hours. Once the anaerobic digestion process is completed the remaining organic compounds are transformed into a high-quality fertilizer called bio-slurry or digestate. This bio-slurry can be separated: the solid part can be composted and the liquid part can be used as liquid fertilizer. When the available bio-slurry cannot be used at once, it can be stored and added to composting with other biodegradable materials. The resulting composted fertilizer can then be stored for several weeks.
[1] In Benin, a typical household waste is mainly composed of kitchen waste, food leftovers and vegetable and fruit peel and skins.

What makes the biogas a sustainable energy alternative?  

Nearly three billion people in developing countries rely on wood, charcoal, animal dung, DSC_1849crop residue or coal to meet their energy needs for cooking. This reliance on solid fuels has serious consequences for their health, the environment and the social and economic development. According to the World Health Organization, household air pollution from cooking and heating kills over 4 million people every year and sickens millions more. Presently, in Benin 94% of the population is using slid fuels for cooking. By introducing a new business model of mobile biogas solution for domestic use and providing clean cooking solutions our pilot project in Toffo addresses therefore the most basic needs of the poor, while also delivering broader benefits such as the emancipation and engagement of the communities through increased ownership.

Since biogas production is a natural form of waste-to-energy that uses organic matter, the production is easily maintained even in rural areas due to readily available organic waste. Therefore, for households in developing countries, biogas utilization could lead not only to cost savings and health benefits from the reduced use of unsustainable sources of energy, but also to an overall improvement on families’ standard of living as the waste they produce become a valuable resource they can bring to the plant and receive payment for.


Finally, with our pilot project, ReBin creates new job opportunities providing decent work conditions and engaging women throughout the whole entrepreneurial model.  We consider that women in Benin play an important role for the adoption of innovative and cleaner fuels and equipment, since they are the primary users of energy equipment and have significant knowledge about local conditions and resources.

The adoption of biogas technology is therefore an intervention that combines economic development, environmental and social impact and, last but not least, sustainability.


Waste Project Benin: strategic problem

The amount of waste increases globally at an alarming rate and with the expected growth of the world’s population to 9 billion by 2050, the threat posed by society to the environment is immense.  The emergence of a middle class in developing countries is exacerbating the situation.  The OCDE has estimated that their number will go from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 4.9 in 2030.  The role of this middle class in economic growth but also in the consumption of goods and services will become predominant.

The current consumption model is often limited to “Take-Make-Waste”.  Waste disposal is considered as being the final stage of our value chain and its impact on society, environment and economy is widely underestimated.  The system is looking at improving the current situation rather than looking for a different solution to satisfy the real needs.  Waste management is generally considered from a local perspective, but depends mostly on social and cultural phenomena and crosses the boundaries of the natural communities.

The problems posed by waste in developing countries like Benin are multiple and increases the population’s vulnerability, especially those of the most disadvantaged classes.  The damages caused to human lives and the environment are permanent.  The lack of understanding regarding the complexity and the challenges resulting from the increasing production, accumulation and mismanagement of waste is the main reason the government relegates its importance behind the priority for developing the country’s economy.

It is, therefore, indispensable to rethink this problem in a more comprehensive way by repositioning it in a coordinated and integrated frame, that ensures the sustainability of future initiatives.  Especially that technical, financial, environmental and institutional challenges are enormous.

With the increase of the world’s population, its life span and the emergence of a class that will play a dominant role in our consumption model, we are facing a major crisis with the amount of waste we produce and the way we manage it globally.  Plastics, metals, and other toxics are present in all consumables and have resulted in more sophisticated and expensive ways to dispose of our waste.

Despite the financial and industrial resources that the richest countries have at their disposal, only a limited quantity of our waste is being processed locally.  The remainder is “exported” to the poorest regions of the Planet.  In addition, these same countries suffer from the rapid transition of organic waste to more industrialized ones, without the financial resources and technical means to cope with this challenge.

Since 1987, the Republic of Benin enacted several laws and national decrees with the objective to sanitize the living and working framework of its communities.  It has already implemented some actions in partnership with organizations active in the waste management sector.  The cost for implementing a comprehensive system that optimizes the collection of waste and promotes a better use of recycling mechanisms is evaluated at more than half a billion Euros spread over twenty-five years from now.  The success also depends on the capacity of the government to establish an efficient institutional and regulatory framework as well as managing the multiple streams implicated in the waste lifecycle rationally.  The government cannot tackle this immense challenge on its own and needs private partnerships that will bring innovative solutions to minimize the environmental and sanitary costs on short, medium and long terms.

waste project benin cotonou laguna

              Picture taken in Cotonou Laguna in September 2015

There is an increase in awareness around waste management in both developed and developing countries but the matter is still being looked at mainly from the environmental angle and overlooks the societal and economic interactions.  We can and must transform the problem into an opportunity for real sustainability.  We must no longer look at waste as an inevitable cost but as a resource to be exploited by industry and agriculture.

  • Waste has an impact on the environment as a whole and creates risks for humanity, with hundreds of thousands of deaths a year caused by its effect on water alone.
  • Local authorities and taxpayers mostly finance waste management, putting the burden mainly on communities and not on the companies who make a profit by collecting and disposing of waste in landfills.
  • Most waste has a value attached to it and can be considered as a valuable resource. The basis of a “zero-waste” economy exists but is not effective, largely due to its costly implementation and recycling operations.
  • The mismanagement of waste is an obstacle to economic development. It is hard to conceive as the public sector is usually in charge of managing waste and assuming the costs while the economic sector is in charge of operations and absorbs the profits generated.
  • People, households, and companies are the sole contributors to the waste lifecycle process but are not responsible actors in general.  Social and cultural norms vary from country to country and education is the key driver for this necessary change in the collective mindset.

Federate the actors (i.e. state, local authorities, general population, collectors, industries, and companies) around a common goal. A mean to reach this objective is to turn waste into a resource.  We can adopt a new paradigm that can create opportunities, generating income for the poorest, more jobs, allowing public spending in other directions such as education and health, and reusing our natural resources through a more efficient recycling process.  Our waste project in Benin must be an opportunity for the government to realize its programs, leveraging on the existing legal, regulatory, organizational, technical, financial and economic tools.


By Mark E Giannelli, April 2016

ReBin 2016 ©

Leachate : a chemical soup

Leachate : a chemical soup

Leachate is a chemical soup and a threat not only for environment, but also for human beings.

There is one commodity which is essential to the very existence of life on earth.

Every ecosystem depends on it, from the boreal tundra in Alaska to the great Amazon rainforest. It’s in the air you breathe and in your body; it transports soil nutrients to river deltas and all the way out into the oceans. Water is the lifeblood of our planet and everything depend on its slow but never-ending journey across the world. All that is around us, even the very ground upon which we tread is washed clean by rainfall and swept away. It seeps through the uppermost soil-layers and eventually ends up in the massive groundwater reserves bellow.

Unfortunately, due to the very nature of water itself – other, more harmful particles such as chemical compounds and industrial waste from mines and landfills may also be dissolved or suspended. And the industrialized world we live in provides ample opportunities for pollution to occur.

Guidelines exist of course, for proper disposal of old electronics, PCB-coated hulls and truckloads of plastics. But regulations barely manage to supervise the official market -and large areas of the world remain unseen by those who wish for legislation. Predominantly developing countries are burdened by the enormous amount of toxic waste produced in the developed world -countries badly equipped for the job.

Leachate is a term mostly unknown to the lay-man, but widely used in the environmental sciences and waste-management. It describes the phenomena of water pollution, often in conjuncture with landfills or mining operations. Depending on the type of landfill, anything from fecal matter to heavy metals and inorganic compounds such as: calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, ammonium, iron and sulphate can leach out into nearby ground-water supplies. Municipal “solid waste” landfills typically generates a “chemical soup” so concentrated that even small amounts may be cause for concern if exposed to water.

Even with the existing regulations accidents occur -such as the one in East Taphouse, Connonbridge landfill two years ago. An unknown amount of liquid poured out into nearby streams and algae in the water turned bright orange as a result. The site had been in use since 1969 (44 years) with a 22-year extension coming up. Most likely the lowest layer of liner (usually a layer of clay) meant to prevent leachate from leaving the landfill was falling apart from neglect.

Our fresh-water reserves are not infinite and climate change-related droughts are steadily diminishing what we have. Taking care of our water-supplies must be a top-priority, especially in areas of industrial activity such as mining or garbage-disposal. But the responsibility for a better tomorrow lies within the consumer-sphere as well. We can no longer ignore easy-to-do tasks such as sorting waste before disposal and recycling garbage in a responsible manner.


Mark Giannelli, October 2015

Rebin Do More Than Waste ©





International Conference for a Green and Inclusive Econony

ReBin at the International Conference for a Green and Inclusive Economy

ReBin at the International Conference for a Green and Inclusive Economy

We are happy and proud to have been invited by Green Cross during the International Conference for a Green and Inclusive Economy. Dr. Somthai Wongcharoen, Founder of Wongpanit Group of Companies, will address a very inspiring keynote speech on Day 2 between 9:30am and 12:00pm (Wednesday October 7th).

This will take place in Geneva on 6th and 7th October 2015. The agenda and the online registration are available from now by clicking on the following link :

We hope to see you there and to share with you on our ReBin agenda.

International Conference for a Green and Inclusive Econony

Lake Expo 2015

Lake Expo 2015, Geneva

Lake Expo 2015, Geneva

As part of our sustainable development project and in association with Green Cross International, we are pleased to invite you to the launch of the ” Lake Expo” in Geneva.

We have exposed three panels that explains our ideas and the concept behind our future projects.

The event will take place on Saturday, September 5th, from 3pm. The tent will be located in front of the Palais Wilson (chair of Human Rights), near the lake.

The exhibition theme for 2015 is The Future We Want. We will be delighted to present our project and the exhibition panels that will be displayed throughout the month of September 2015.

By Mark Giannelli, October 2015

ReBin Do More Than Waste®

Lake Expo 2015Lake Expo 2015

recycling plant visit

ReBin visits Recycling Plant: another reality

ReBin visits Recycling Plant

In March 2015, we decided to visit “Wongpanit Waste Recycling Plant” in Phitsanulok, Thailand. “Wongpanit” was created by a visionary man, Dr. Somthai, who started this business three decades ago, at a time when only a few people took environmental issues seriously. He has been demonstrating since then that the linear consumption model of extract-consume-dispose is outdated and that more circular models of consumption are needed. By turning waste into a valuable resource, he provides today the economic and social rationale for the creation of a zero-waste economy. Waste management is a growing global challenge for society.

A problem that only becomes more daunting as the population grows and becomes more affluent. Plastics, metals and toxics accumulate in nature and contaminate water, soil and air. By turning waste into a resource, the problem transforms into an opportunity for the environment, economy and society. “There is no waste on this planet, only misplaced resources”, Dr. Somthai says. He has been an incredible source of inspiration to us and making us realize we could develop a truly sustainable project in other developing countries. We would like to address him our heartfelt thanks for making us realize that waste is not a nuisance and that its lifecycle does not end in a landfill.

By Mark Giannelli, September 2015

ReBin Do More Than Waste ©