“Plastic still has value,” said Nzambi Matee of the mountains of discarded oil drums, laundry buckets, yoghurt tubs and other trash being shredded into colourful flakes at her Nairobi factory.
“I believe that plastic is one of the misunderstood materials.”
The 30-year-old Kenyan engineer and inventor would know: her start-up recycles tonnes of plastic destined for landfill into eco-friendly bricks that are stronger, cheaper and lighter than concrete.
A creation of her own design, these sustainable paving blocks already line roads, driveways and sidewalks in Nairobi, but could soon also serve as an alternative building material for low-cost housing.
Every day her enterprise, Gjenge Makers, churns out 1,500 bricks made from industrial and household plastic that otherwise would be dumped in the city’s overflowing garbage heaps.