Making body soap from recycled oil in Cameroon

Martial Bella is a guest blogger and co-founder of social enterprise GIC Bellomar in Cameroon.

Municipalities in developing countries produce large quantities of solid and liquid wastes. The management of these waste products is important because of their impact to the environment and health. For instance, disposing of waste in surrounding areas becomes a vector for the development of diseases, and they contribute to produce substances called lixiviates that are already infiltrating into the water table. Additionally, solid waste accounts for 5% of the total GHG emission (PDF).  This turns into an environmental issue that has to be resolved.

According to a study that (GIC Bellomar) conducted with the support from Lucien Yoppa in Hotels (2 to 4 stars rating) in the city of Douala, Cameroon during June and September 2013, on average,  hotels in this area throw 30 litres of used oil out in drains and streets per week, which means 1,560 litres per year.

GIC Bellomar has found  that recycling the oil by using it as a raw component to make body soap could make sense. It also contributes to reducing the production cost of soaps and facilitates the development of small and medium size enterprizes (soap factories) as well as creating new jobs.

GIC Bellomar promotes this solution with FCTV and its partner Living Earth Foundation, UK under the framework of their Waste to Wealth project.

From the production to business

Based on this experience in Douala, the production cost of 5 kg of body soaps made from filtered used oil, clay, and the butter of cocoa is 8,383 F CFA (14 USD), with a 90g bar of soap at a cost price of 151 F CFA (0.25 USD). In the local market, GIC Bellomar is selling the 90g bar at 350 F CFA (0.60 USD) which is less expensive compared to common brands in the market which sells fort 500 F CFA (0.80 USD). Thus making a profit of around around 199 F CFA (0.35 USD) per bar of soap, whilst offering a lower cost more environmetnall friendly alternative. 

Through this enterprise, GIC Belomar provides training to people around this technology who have been developing their own small businesses. They are collecting used oil from households and hotels. 

Read more 'Waste to Wealth' projects on Cleanleap: