Nzambi Matee is the founder of Gjenge Makers, a social enterprise that recycles and up-cycles waste plastic into construction products. Nzambi Matee is a materials engineer who designed her own machines. Nzambi Matee’s factory produces 1,500 bricks each day, made from a mix of different kinds of plastic.
Our product is almost five to seven times stronger than concrete,” said Matee, the founder of Nairobi-based Gjenge Makers, which transforms plastic waste into durable building materials. There is that waste they cannot process anymore; they cannot recycle. That is what we get.Nzambi Matee
Mature gets the waste from packaging factories for free, although she pays for the plastic she gets from other recyclers.
Her factory produces 1,500 bricks each day, made from a mix of different kinds of plastic.
These are high-density polyethylene, used in milk and shampoo bottles; low-density polyethylene, often used for bags for cereals or sandwiches; and polypropylene, used for ropes, flip-top lids, and buckets.
But she does not work with polyethylene terephthalate or PET, commonly used for plastic bottles.
The plastic waste is mixed with sand, heated, and then compressed into bricks, which are sold at varying prices, depending on thickness and color. Their common grey bricks cost 850 Kenyan shillings ($7.70) per square meter, for example.
She said her factory has recycled 20 tonnes of waste plastic since its founding in 2017.
She plans to add another, bigger, production line that could triple capacity and hopes to break even by year-end.
Matee set up her factory after she ran out of patience waiting for the government to solve the problem of plastic pollution.
“I was tired of being on the sidelines,” she said.