Creativity, Featured, People, Technology

This woman turns non-recyclable plastic into bricks that are 7 times stronger than concrete

A woman in Kenya managed to turn tons of non-recyclable plastic trash into super durable, lightweight bricks which cost ten times less than the price of normal bricks.

Nzambi Matee is a 29-year-old inventor from Kenya. She became tired of tripping over plastic in her home city in Nairobi. Nairobi generates over 500 tons of plastic waste a day. And only a small fraction of that is recycled. 

Nzambi decided instead of complaining about plastic waste, she should do something about that. So she started a company called Gjenge Makers that turns plastic into super strong, super lightweight, and super durable bricks.  

Normally companies have to pay to dispose of their plastic waste. But Matee could solve their problem. Matee’s company takes that plastic trash from their hands for free. Her company only uses plastic that cannot be further recycled or was never recyclable in the first place, such as cereal bags, sandwich bags, shampoo bottles, milk bottles, flip-top lids, ropes, and buckets. 

Then the plastic is shredded, then mixed with sand, and then put through a high-temperature extrusion machine. It makes a slurry out of the mixture. Then it is compressed into beautiful, colorful bricks. 

These bricks are 7 times stronger than concrete but half the weight. It makes them easier to transport and it is easier to work with these bricks. 

So far the bricks are used to make driveways, sidewalks, patios, and roads. But the company plans to make bricks that are suitable for building construction in the near future.

So far Matee’s company has recycled over 20 metric tons of plastic, and that value is expected to be 50 metric tons by the end of the year. And her company produces about 500 -1000 bricks per day. And recycles close to 500 kilograms of plastic waste per day. And according to Matee, they have the capacity to make around 1000 to 15000 bricks per day. 

Because of this company Matee has been named a Young Champion of the Earth 2020 Africa winner of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). And that awards provide more funding and mentorship to Matee to further develop her company.  

Matee said, “Plastic is a material that is misused and misunderstood” 

All images courtesy of Gjenge Makers Ltd 

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