In Kenya, the United Nations is supporting a local initiative involving the recycling of plastic waste. At a time when plastic is a serious problem on a global scale, the method of the entrepreneur Nzambi Matee allows to recycle this polluting material while making bricks five times stronger than concrete.
Ecological pavers made from plastic waste
Nzambi Matee is a materials engineer at the head of the company Yarn Manufacturers which produces durable building materials at low cost. For its innovation, it received in 2020 the regional award for Young Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). A true pioneer, Nzambi Matee indeed manufactures ecological pavers. These are made from a composite of recycled plastic waste and sand. Resold for a little over 6 euros per m², these bricks would be five times more resistant than conventional concrete, the latter itself being at the heart of a real ecological disaster.
In Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, the initiative is the subject of a partnership with different manufacturers plastic bottle caps and seals for the food and pharmaceutical industries. The offcuts of this waste are collected and then mixed with various single-use plastics. According to Nzambi Matee, the process enables 112 people to secure a decent income. These are informal collectors and other actors in the pre-treatment of the production process ecological pavers.
An initiative that needs to evolve
Today, the company Gjenge Makers produces between five hundred and a thousand bricks daily by recycling around 500 kg of plastic waste. In total, this company has already recycled nearly twenty tonnes of plastic. In addition, the demand for these bricks is greater than the supply. Nzambi Matee therefore considers that meeting this demand is a real challenge. In short, this initiative only asks to expand and why not, to move towards democratization at the level of the country, the African continent, even more.
Let us recall in passing that with the support of the United Nations, the city of Nairobi has declared war on waste of all kinds. You should know that for plastic waste alone, the capital accumulates no less than five hundred tons every day ! However, only a small part is currently being recycled.
These low-cost ecological bricks can also solve another problem, namely the problem of inadequate housing in Kenya. Here is the report dedicated to Nzambi Matee and Gjenge Makers published by UNEP: