Innovation That Matters

The machine is able to produce 1,500 bricks each day, made from a mix of different kinds of plastics | Photo source Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

Kenyan startup recycles plastic into bricks stronger than concrete

Property & Construction

Nairobi-based startup Gjenge Makers can produce 1,500 bricks made from discarded plastic each day

Spotted: Tired of waiting for the government to come up with solutions to the plastic pollution problem in Kenya, Nzambi Matee decided to take matters into her own hands. The entrepreneur set up a factory, named Gjenge Makers, that recycles plastic waste into bricks stronger than concrete. The Nairobi-based factory has developed a prototype machine that is able to produce 1,500 bricks each day, made from a mix of different kinds of plastics. 

Matee collects the waste material from packaging factories for free and pays for the plastic from other recyclers. Working with a combination of high-density polyethylene used in milk and shampoo bottles, low-density polyethylene found in sandwich and cereal bags, and polypropylene used in ropes and buckets, the machine first churns the plastic waste with sand, then heats it and finally compresses it to form bricks. 

Although Matee does stay away from PET, which is found most commonly in plastic bottles, Gjenge Makers has managed to recycle more than 20 tonnes of plastic waste into paving bricks since 2017, all of which come in an array of colours. Matee also plans to add a bigger production line that could triple capacity and hopes to break even by the end of this year.

Written By: Serafina Basciano

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