Nzambi Matee is helping to tackle homelessness in Kenya while simultaneously finding a way to save the environment by turning plastic waste into a building block stronger than concrete.
Matee opened a factory in Nairobi called Gjenge Makers back in 2017. At the factory, workers used plastic waste, mixed it with sand, and blast it with heat before finally compressing it into bricks.
A brick five to seven times stronger than concrete.
The factory accepts waste that other facilities “cannot process anymore, they cannot recycle,” Matee told Reuters. “That is what we get.” At present, Gjenge Makers produces about 1,500 bricks in an array of sizes and colors.
The engineer told the publication that their standard grey bricks cost 850 Kenyan shillings ($7.70) per square meter.
“It is absurd that we still have this problem of providing decent shelter — a basic human need, plastic is a material that is misused and misunderstood. the potential is enormous, but its after life can be disastrous,” Matee said of her inspiration to set up her factory.
Gjenge Makers aims to “solve the waste pollution problem by recycling and upcycling plastic, while providing alternative construction products which are beautiful, strong and durable and to provide job opportunities for many skilled and unskilled youths in Kenya and Africa at large.”
Matee and her crew of 10 engineers are working hard to expand her operations by adding a more significant production line that could triple capacity. She is yet to break even but hopes to by the year’s end.
If you’d like to support Matee’s Gjenge Makers, click here.