Nzambi Matee says she was “tired of being on the sidelines” while civil servants struggled against plastic waste in the capital city of Nairobi, so the materials engineer created a product that is 5 to 7 times stronger than concrete.
Her Nairobi-based startup company Gjenge Makers has created a lightweight and low-cost building material that is made of recycled plastic with sand to make bricks that are stronger than concrete material.
The 29-year-old trained engineer and schooled in biochemistry founded the new ways of converting waste into sustainable materials. With her initiative, Matee has recently been named a Young Champion of the Earth 2020 Africa winner at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The award provides seed funding and mentorship to promising environmentalists as they tackle the world’s most pressing challenges.
“Our team ideated a rollout of a plastics collection company which would sort and sell plastic waste to other recycling companies. Having collected more waste faster than the recycling companies could uptake, this original idea was pivoted, and a decision was made to do value addition to these plastics hence the decision to manufacture alternative building products emerged. Thus, Gjenge Makers was founded in 2018 and is registered under the Companies Act, 2015.