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Kenyan startup making pavement bricks using plastic waste

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You may throw away plastic bottle tops and cooking oil containers after use because technically you don’t need them.

But there is a company in Nairobi that rely on this trash to put food on the table.

Gjenge Makers recycle plastic bottle tops and cooking oil containers to make pavers, which are used for sidewalks footpaths and sideways.

The company that has been in operations in the last two years and launched its product this year (2020).

“Gjenge started with a dream of four people, me and three brilliant engineers, the idea was how do we find the most sustainable solution to plastic waste pollution and giving a solution that is practical, the best impact was meeting basic needs, and in this case, housing is one of the basic needs,” She said.

When they identified the space they wanted to get into, they began doing a lot of research on it, if there was demand for the product, and how to make the product, but unfortunately, they did not find the machines they needed and had to make their own machines from scratch.

“The machines we use, we make them from scratch; we really researched the internet to find the machines that would give us what we wanted, but we didn’t find exactly what we wanted. We decided if Moses can’t get to the mountain, let’s bring the mountain to Moses,” she explained.

However, some machines were too expensive to make and they had to look for assistance.

The company went on an eight months fundraising campaign looking for a strategic partner.

“We knocked on so many doors, some did not even give us time to explain our idea, but the ones who did give us an ear, I remember getting 52 no’s but we finally landed on help,” he recalls.

Today, the factory has a capacity to produce about 1200, 40mm pavers, a day on a two-day shift.

“Having launched this year, we have seen a great uptake of our product despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we are hoping to continue getting more orders, and taking the company to the next level,” she noted.

The team eyes the government’s’ affordable housing projects, and plans to increase other sustainable products to their portfolio.

The impact of plastic pollution is felt across the world with 8 million tonnes of plastic finding it’s way into oceans every year.

Even more troubling is that only 9 percent of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled, while 79 percent ends up in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.

Kenya has however imposed a ban on use of plastic bags.

Total plastic produced in Kenya every year stands at about 400, 000 tonnes.