Kenyan scientist is turning plastic waste into paving bricks
A young innovative Kenyan scientist has dedicated himself to eradicating the pollution problem in the East African nation by turning plastic waste into paving bricks, both stronger and cheaper than conventional bricks.
Nzambi Matee, who founded Nairobi-based startup company Gjenge Makers, has created a lightweight and low-cost building material that is made of recycled plastic with sand to make bricks that are stronger than concrete material.
It’s a creative approach to plastic pollution that's showing up all around the world.
The 29-year-old is a trained engineer and schooled in biochemistry. She founded the new ways of converting waste into sustainable materials.
With her initiative, Matee has recently been named a Young Champion of the Earth 2020 Africa winner at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The award "provides seed funding and mentorship to promising environmentalists as they tackle the world's most pressing challenges."
In 2017, Kenya outlawed single use plastic bags, but it's still everywhere. Clogging drains, polluting rivers, contaminating animal feed.
Matee built a machine to mass produce the plastic bricks. First the waste is sorted to remove rubble and metal. And then it is baked.
She says the boiling mixture is molded into building blocks, as many as 2000 a day. They are 35% cheaper than standard bricks and up to 7 times stronger.
The bricks are currently only used for pathways in small households, but she wants to target big construction companies next.
She said the more plastic is recycled, the more affordable homes can be produced, and there be more employment for the youth.