Recycling Plastic Waste to Manufacture Building Materials
Like many African countries, Tanzania faces a big challenge of managing its municipal solid waste, conserving its forests and reducing poverty. Every day, more than 10,000 tons of waste are produced in the country, 20% of which is plastic. Most of it is dumped on the streets, littering the environment, clogging the sewage system and dirtying the space around people's homes. The situation is compounded by inadequate policies, economic pressure, reluctant administrators and the absence of viable disposal options. Deforestation is another problem with 220,000 acres of indigenous forest having been destroyed so far. Furthermore, over 60% of the youth are unemployed or depend on mini jobs. EcoAct Tanzania is a for-profit social enterprise that uses plastic waste as a resource to manufacture aesthetic, durable and environmental friendly fencing posts. As a sustainable solution for the growing plastic waste, the posts are made from post-consumer plastic and are 100% recyclable. 25 metric tons of plastic waste are permanently withdrawn from the environment every month. Moreover, the posts offer an alternative fencing material to wood and therefore reduce deforestation. Every 25 posts sold save one fully matured Red Cedar Tree. They do not rot, are termite resistant, outlast timber and can be cut, drilled and nailed as easily as wood. The posts are suitable for fencing on farms, homes, national parks, game reserves and commercial premises such as cattle ranches and tourist resorts. They can also be used as support beams for houses, cow sheds and garages. Smaller ones can be used to make chicken houses, rabbit houses, cow sheds and garages. The main goals of the project were to recycle plastic waste and provide an alternative waste management solution, to provide an affordable alternative to timber and thus decrease deforestation, and to provide employment for young people and women. All in all, 300 metric tons of plastic waste have been removed from the environment. 5 employees now have a sustainable income and more than 50 entrepreneurs started their own small business by collecting, cleaning, sorting and transporting the plastic waste material. People were trained in industrial processing and production as well as sales, marketing and management. A focus was on including women to increase their participation and therefore they comprise 60% of the participating members.