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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 200 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.

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