Many developing nations are struggling with plastics pollution and inadequate housing simultaneously. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth 4 times
The problem is particularly pronounced in Africa’s Sub-Saharan region, where plastic packaging collection rates are stagnating at 10% and 53 million citizens are believed to be living in slums.
In a bid to tackle these two challenges simultaneously, a Kenyan entrepreneur has developed a range of low-cost building bricks and roof tiles made using recycled (PCR) plastic and crushed glass waste.
Called Eco Blocks & Tiles, the products have recycled around 56 tonnes of littered plastic since they first went on sale in 2014, with Kenyan residents and businesses having purchased 75,000 roof tiles to date.
The company has recently received funding to scale up the business’s operations. The funding was given under NGO One Young World’s Lead2030 scheme, which pairs up large corporates with startups in a bid to drive more rapid and joined-up progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda. The funding will help Eco Blocks & Tiles to expand its production 20-fold, enabling it to 200 tonnes of plastic waste annually by 2024.
In Kenya over only 8% of the 3,000,000 tonnes of waste generated each year is recycled. The rest ends up in the environment to cause pollution.
Non-biodegradable fractions of waste such as plastics and glass are of particular concern as they do not biodegrade in the soil.
The need for affordable housing is a great concern in Africa. East Africa alone requires more than 5,000,000 units to catch up with housing demand. In Kenya, a deficit of over 300,000 housing units are needed each year.
The Eco friendly building products are seen as a solution to both the problem of plastic and glass waste and the need to provide low cost construction materials.