Recycling waste products.

Published on 17th May 2005

Kiima Kimwe Residents Rights and Integrated Development Organization (K-RIDO) is situated in Central Division of Machakos District. It is a non profit making body concerned with human rights and development. Our African Executive Staff writer Josephat Juma caught up with George Kiilu, who is the secretary and patron of the youth department. The youth are out to convert waste plastic material to productive use, by making fencing posts.

Q. How did you get started?
A. Walking all over Machakos Municipality, I was perturbed by the widespread plastic litter such as bottles and polythene bags. I asked myself, how can we keep Machakos clean? And how can this plastic refuse which is ever increasing in volume be converted and made useful? I was nagged by these two questions but didn’t have an inkling of what to do until I met Mr. Simon Munyue in a UN HABITAT forum at Gigiri (Nairobi) in late 2001.

Q. What inspiration did Munyue give you?
A. In the UN forum, he had staged an exhibition of household equipment derived from plastic. One that captivated me most was the plastic fence post.

Q. Why were you captivated by this exhibition?
A. I saw it as an answer to my questions; cleaning the environment and converting plastic rejects into useful products.

Q. Did you make a follow up after the meeting?
A. Oh yes! I and eleven youths visited Munyue at his residence for two consecutive days to witness a demonstration on making plastic fencing posts.

Q. Could you please briefly describe the process?
A. Plastic material is gathered from dumpsites and town streets. Sorting is done to determine the recyclable ones which are washed, weighed, melted in a big tank, and then fed into a cylindrical mould. The mould is opened after cooling to release the plastic fencing post.

Q. What is the implication of your venture?
A. When expanded, it will lead to a clean environment through the collection of this refuse. It will be a major source of income for the youth. The use of plastic fence posts will lead to reduction in deforestation, since the percentage of our forest cover as per international standards is below average. Eastern province is plagued by ants that have defied wood preservatives and destroyed hedges and furniture. Plastic fencing will be a solution to this. I am looking beyond fencing posts and envisaging the production of plastic furniture, basins etc.

Q. What have you done to realize your dreams?
A. We fabricated a giant sufuria with a stove underneath, a cylindrical mould and scooping equipment. We set the ball rolling and initially encountered loss due to overheating. Later on, with consultation, we got steady and produced three posts for a start; just to test our potential.

Q. What is hindering your progress?
A. The plot from which the work is done is under contention. We also thought it wise to make the project official and wrote letters to the Public Health Office, Machakos Municipal Council Mayor, the Provincial administration and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. The first two called and invited us for dialogue but there has been no communication from them ever since. The council authorities fear that we will take the garbage collection job from them, but why? People come all the way from Thika town to pick this material, convert it to commodities that they sell to us again!

Q. Is that all?
A. No. We are seeking advice on patenting the project to avoid conflict. We will appreciate seed capital to do a medium scale production. The initial one cost us Ksh 55,000 on training and fabricating the equipment. I believe if we got Ksh 25,000, together
with some allowance for the workers, we shall be on our feet. We will also appreciate if somebody helps us market our product.

Q How much would the fencing post cost?
A. Between 200 and 600 shillings depending on the width and height; or even lower if mass produced.

Q. What commitment do your youth and organization have towards the project considering that what one invest in, he tends to own it and take good care of it?
A. The youth are willing to donate Ksh 5,000 towards revitalizing the project. K-RIDO is also committed to donate a similar amount.

Q. Thank you Mr Kiilu. I can indeed see that a free human mind is capital. Oil used to be a menace to the Arabs but now it’s their gold. Sand used to have little value but the silicon chips that power our computers have been derived from it. Our adversary may be our best friend depending on how we look at him. I admire your entrepreneural spirit. Please think about emissions from the heating. Could they be a threat to the ozone layer?
A. Any advice and constructive criticism are welcome and shall be used to perfect the project. Let us maintain a clean and friendly environment!





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