The Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition is an activity within the framework of the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Best Ideas 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solution or proposition for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.

Turning sawdust waste into briquette energy

Stage of Idea conceptual stage
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Explain your idea in details:

Ghana's wood industries are major producers of sawdust waste. Data estimate that between 100 and 150 metric tonnes of sawdust waste are generated daily by the Sokoban Wood Village in Kumasi alone. Accra, the capital city of Ghana has three major wood enclaves, namely Accra Central, Ashaiman and Ofankor Timber Markets, which equally generate large quantities of sawdust waste every day. However, these huge quantities of sawdust are largely discharged through open dumping and burning with wide environmental and health repercussions. Smoke is a major producer of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to air pollution and climate change. Smoke emissions again cause respiratory illnesses and pose serious health hazards to woodworkers and community members. Also, according to data, about 60% of Ghanaians depend on firewood and charcoal for cooking fuel. This disproportionate over-dependence on traditional sources of energy fuel has contributed enormously to environmental degradation and destruction of Ghana's forest reserve, with than 90% of high forest logged since the late 1940s. This project therefore, seeks to construct and commission a briquette manufacturing plant in Accra to convert sawdust waste into briquettes for use as alternative renewable, clean and cheap energy fuel. The objectives of this briquette project are to help address open dumping and burning of sawdust as the major means of sawdust waste disposal, promote public health, and protect the environment by controlling the rate of forest destruction and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and effects of climate change. The proposed activities of this project include building the briquette facility which involves site clearing, earthworks and fencing, floor tiling/concreting, construction of project building/installation of containers and installations water, electricity, sewerage. Other activities are inside paneling, flooring, installation of briquette machine, installation of office equipment, including computers, commissioning and official opening for production of sawdust briquettes to begin.

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Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development

Briquette technology is globally recognized as a sustainable, modern waste-to-energy technology that has the huge potential to address indiscriminate sawdust waste disposal, promote public health and protect the environment. The proposed briquette manufacturing plant directly falls under the Sustainable Development Goals 7 and 13 of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; and taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts respectively. This project will create resource value from sawdust waste by producing briquettes as alternative renewable, clean and cheap energy fuel. A 70mm briquette plant will produce about 10.6 tonnes of briquettes per day and would impact on sustainable development, both environmentally and socio-economically in the following ways:- Reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, resulting from smoke emissions from open dumping and burning of sawdust waste.- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and effects of climate change, resulting from logging of forest reserves for firewood and charcoal. A reduction would occur because more trees will be left standing to absorb more carbon.- Create at least 15 skilled and unskilled factory jobs for the youth, and provide dozen job opportunities, mostly for women collecting and sorting sawdust waste.- Clients such as schools and users of charcoal and firewood would save monies on their current fuel expenditure since sawdust briquettes are comparatively cheaper.- Woodworkers who pay transport fees for collection of their sawdust waste would save between $18.5 to $27.8 per week. The success of this project would be measured by the effective running of the briquette plant, the required tonnes of briquettes produced per day, general acceptance of briquettes and income generated from the sale of briquettes from clients.

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Plans for implementation and sustainability

Sawdust waste, which is the raw material for this project is readily available in large quantities for free. A feasibility study conducted by applicant to assess market demand and technical viability of briquettes successfully demonstrated that there are good prospects for briquette production in Ghana. The process for this briquette project will start with the collection of sawdust waste from major wood industries in Accra. Sorting will follow to segregate sawdust with high moisture content from sawdust with low moisture content. Sawdust with required moisture content will then be sent to the briquette plant for incineration and conversion into briquettes. The final briquettes will be packaged and sold to homes, schools, prisons, and small-scale enterprises, including restaurants in Ghana which largely depend on firewood and charcoal as cooking fuel. The income from the sale of briquettes will be used to sustain the operation of the briquette plant and remunerate staff. To promote nationwide acceptance, this project will involve extensive awareness raising, including face-to-face promotion with target market, as well mainstream and social media promotions. There will be high-level engagements with environmental policy makers and stakeholders in government, public and private sector, as well as environmental civil society organizations and individuals to promote general acceptance and usage. Setting up a briquette plant requires huge financial outlay which demands financial support. Through my participation in this competition, I seek to attract financial support to actualize this project idea. The real risk to the overall success of the project is the lack of experience and implementation skills necessary to expand production. It is essential that the project team their strengthen capacity and build the necessary skills either through training or partnership with other technical agencies to plan, design and operate a briquette business, scale up and achieve long-term sustainability.

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Your profile

Richard Odomako Opoku is 34 years of age from Ghana. I'm the Director of Research and Monitoring at Let's Do It Ghana, an environmental non-governmental organization. I'm an environmental advocate and researcher on waste management technologies. I hold Master of Science in Development Management with Specialization in Environment and Sustainable Development from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana. I have Certificate in Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries from the University of Cape Town; Certificate in Focus On: Understanding Climate Change awarded by the Young Africans Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network; and Certificate in Project Management from the Christian Service University College (CSUC), Ghana. I'm in the process of completing an online Certificate in Municipal Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries run by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne, in partnership with Eawag Aquatic Center. I'm passionate about environmental issues, and believe that there are so many ways that Ghana can create resource value from its waste to promote public health, protect the environment and create employment. I was astonished at the critical solid waste problems that the country was facing, despite the number of waste-to-energy technologies available. My experience with how sawdust waste was being openly dumped and burned at a wood village which also host community members prompted my interest in this briquette project. In 2015, I received a research grant from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to conduct a feasibility studies on the market and technical viability of briquette manufacturing plant at the Sokoban Wood Village in Kumasi, one of Ghana's leading wood enclaves. Link here to publication below:

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