Young engineers in Nairobi, Kenya found a way to make good use of the mounting single-use plastic the country has no capacity to recycle. They make bricks out of it.
In June 2020, Kenya imposed a ban on using single-use plastic waste in protected natural areas, such as national parks, beaches, and forests. Previously in 2017, the country had already made the headlines with a ground-breaking law that saw a nationwide ban on plastic bags.
Yet, plastic keeps piling up across the East African country. In the capital Nairobi alone, around 500 metric tonnes of plastic waste is generated every single day. While the country has the capacity to recycle a fraction of it there is fear that a further 500 tonnes will enter the African country. This is as a result of a new free-trade deal between Kenya and the US.
According to a 2018 United Nations report, an estimated 13 million tonnes of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year. Marine species ingest or become entangled by plastic debris, sometimes causing injury or even death.
Greenpeace environmental campaigner Amos Wemanya says plastics are everywhere, even in what we eat.
"Microplastics are in our food, they are in our air, they are in our water, and they are causing health problems," he says.
Four engineers in Nairobi are seeking an alternative.
In 2017, they founded Gjenge Makers, a manufacturing company that recycles plastic bottle tops and cooking oil containers into bricks, which they mainly sell to individual homeowners and schools.
Click on the video above to learn more about this project.