Managing waste in Chad

Thu, 05/07/12

WFP's logistics team in Chad plays a key role in keeping the truck and light vehicle fleet on the road so that food gets delivered where and when it is needed.  But maintaining vehicles in top shape has a down side - it creates lots of waste.  Old tyres, spent batteries, broken parts and thousands of litres of used engine oil are all potentially damaging for the environment if they are not disposed of properly.

Mindful of the risks, logistics staff began the search for practical and responsible waste management and recycling options. Formal recycling and take-back schemes are becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world but they aren’t always easy to find in developing countries. Undaunted, staff were determined to find a solution to the growing stockpile of used engine oil at WFP workshops in the capital N’Djamena, and Abeche in the east of the country. Rather ironically, the problem was solved by buying more oil.

A lubricant procurement contract signed with Libya Oil in May 2012 specified that all oil purchased from the company would be taken back for reprocessing at the end of its useful life as an engine lubricant in WFP Chad’s vehicle fleet. Libya Oil has also agreed to take WFP’s existing stockpile of used oil. The contract is a great example of sustainable procurement at work. Recycling is guaranteed at the time of purchase rather than having to tackle disposal as an afterthought when the product is no longer needed, which may have environmental and cost implications for the organisation.   

The first batch of 4,400 litres of used oil was collected in May and sent off as part of a bulk consignment to Libya Oil’s re-refining plant in Cameroon. Treated recycled oil frequently gets re-used as an engine lubricant a second time; the re-refined product often meets the same certification standards as new engine oil. 

The take-back clause in the procurement contract came as a welcome relief for Philippe Gattucci, WFP’s workshop manager in N’Djamena. Philippe is well aware of the environmental risks that local ‘informal’ recycling can bring, so he and his team kept the used oil on site while they searched for proper disposal options.

It’s very difficult to find credible recycling companies in Chad. Many were willing to take our used oil, but there was no accountability and no way to trace what they were doing with it. There are environmental protection laws in Chad, and we wanted to use a certified company to be sure we were conforming to those laws.”

In Chad and many other parts of Africa, old oil is commonly sold or given away for reuse in other vehicles or for timber preservation, used as a dust suppressant on dirt roads, or simply burned or poured onto the ground. It is insoluble, slow to break down, and often contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals that can contaminate soils, waterways and groundwater sources. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, used oil from just one vehicle oil change can contaminate up to 3.5 million liters of drinking water.  

Oil is just one of many waste streams from the Chad fleet, so Philippe has begun negotiations with a new joint venture between an established Cameroonian waste recycler and a local company, to recycle used tyres and vehicle batteries starting in 2013. His end goal is to have all major workshop waste reused or recycled in a responsible manner.    

Reducing, the first ‘R’ in the waste management hierarchy, is also part of the program in Chad. Since taking over the fleet management role from an outsourced company in January 2012, Philippe and his team, with support from HQ logistics fleet management cell, conducted an extensive fleet management review and subsequently revised the existing vehicle and generator maintenance schedules. As well as reducing the amount of waste oil and lubricant filters that require disposal, the move stands to save WFP up to US$74,000 per year in new oil and filter costs.

As WFP broadens its greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiatives to include water, waste and other sustainability indicators, efforts in Chad serve as an example of how WFP’s commitment to good stewardship is not just good for the planet, but makes for a leaner, more resource efficient WFP.

The WFP logistics workshop team in N’Djamena, Chad. Back (from left to right): Prosper Napi, Philemon Memgeng, Gaius Beaing, Kemadji Tamdji Lazare, and Allo Kamegue. Front Philippe Gattucci, Nekaryo Nderam and Samba Merveille. 



The WFP logistics workshop team in N’Djamena, Chad. Back (from left to right): Prosper Napi, Philemon Memgeng, Gaius Beaing, Kemadji Tamdji Lazare, and Allo Kamegue. Front Philippe Gattucci, Nekaryo Nderam and Samba Merveille.

WFP team photo courtesy of WFP

Engine oil photo courtesy of Flickr-MartinBishop

Categories: Procurement