Kenyan Entrepreneur Transforms Plastic Waste into Bricks
A social enterprise based in Nairobi transforms plastic waste from factories and companies into extremely strong paving bricks.
Gjenge Makers was created by Nzambi Matee, who was sick and tired of just watching plastic pile up in her country with little being done to address the pressing issue.
She and her team's durable building materials earned them the United Nations Environmental Programme's Young Champions of the Earth for 2020 award.
The plastic waste Matee's team uses is the type of waste that can't be processed anymore — clearly, it can't be recycled. Her team then takes this plastic waste and creates between 1,000 to 1,500 paving bricks a day in its factory.
The plastic waste is initially mixed with sand in a machine at extremely hot temperatures, as it acts as a binder. Then the blended paste is compressed in the next machine into its brick form.
As plastic is fibrous in nature, it turns the brick into an extremely strong and durable material as its compression strength is heightened thanks to the plastic. On top of that, compared with regular bricks, Gjenge Makers' ones are lighter, so transportation and installation are achieved at faster rates.
Throughout three years since it's been in operation, the team has recycled 20 metric tons (44092.5 lbs) of plastic and, aims to push that up to 50 metric tons (110231 lbs) before the end of the next financial year. It also has the goal to expand its sales outside of Kenya, further afield in Africa, and ultimately open up to the world.
The paving bricks currently come in a number of colors, ranging from gray to blue, and red. The team hopes to shift to creating regular construction bricks down the line, and for the time being, its paving bricks are being used as footpaths in local schools.