Use waste as a resource
8Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
9Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
11Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
About 600 tonnes of plastics are generated in Uganda every day. Some 90% of this is sent to landfill or burnt illegally, as there is no formal means of waste collection. A small proportion is collected, pelletised and shipped to markets such as China and India to be used as raw materials.
However, this unmanaged plastic waste is a tremendous opportunity. It can be recycled to make construction materials with a smaller environmental footprint, and in the process create jobs to help tackle Uganda’s high unemployment rate.
Andy Bownds is the director of the Uganda Marathon Foundation. He was spurred into action when his friends pointed out that although he professed concern over environmental issues, he had yet to do anything about it. After researching the impact of plastic waste on the economy and the environment, Andy started a collection site in his backyard and named it the Masaka Recycling Initiative.
Two years later, the company, now called Eco Brixs, started to produce pavers and other valuable items from waste plastic.
Eco Brixs started in 2017 as the Masaka Recycling Initiative, at which point it focused on plastic recovery. After two years of operation, Andy realised more could be done to capture the value in plastics as well as support the local economy, and Eco Brixs was born. In collaboration with universities and other experts they have researched how to transform the plastic. Now, they recycle seven types of plastics to make various products, such as an innovative plastic-sand composite paver, which has proven to be stronger, lighter and more durable than concrete. A series of other prototypes are in the pipeline. Eco Brixs’ other focus is on creating jobs – especially for people with disabilities – supporting the local economy and educating people on plastic waste. They have set up 20 recycling centres in different communities across Uganda. They also collaborate with schools to educate students on good environmental practices, establishing 31 ‘Eco Clubs’ with over 900 students. More recently, to support COVID-19 efforts, Eco Brixs have produced PPE from recycled plastics.