JKUAT Tech Expo 5.0 Winners Talks To Innov8tiv About Their Plasto-Bricks Project; Turning Plastics Into Bricks
Did you know that plastic usage began to become more rampant in just the last 70 years? Stats (PlasticOceans.net) have it that the largest market segment for plastic use is in the packaging industry accounting for over 40% of plastic use. It is said that approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide; one million plastic bags every minute.
Perhaps even more interesting, is the fact that in just the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than during the entire period of the last century. The ‘modern man’ has become a species of ‘disposable lifestyle’, as it is estimated that of all the plastic package we get, 50% of the time we use them just once and throw it away. The average ‘working life’ of a typical plastic bag is about 15 minutes.
We cannot downplay the role of plastics and how convenient they have become; they are cheap, versatile and with properties that makes them ideal for a lot of situations. But, at the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that they are not biodegradable, and Planet Earth is now facing a plastic epidemic. Given that by 1950 about 50 million tons of plastic were manufactured and by the year 2008 the figure surpassed 245 million tons.
Plastic waste now account for 10% of the total wastes humans produce on Planet Earth. Clearly this is a growing problem, but today we share with you the story of three former JKUAT students who have come up with an innovative solution to mitigate this growing ‘plastic epidemic’. I met the trio during the last JKUAT Tech Expo 5.0 held last year at the University ground in Kiambu County, Kenya.
I would like to point out that this team won the JKUAT Tech Expo 5.0
Without much further stats, facts, numbers and figures on plastic wastes, let’s delve right into our interview with the three innovators:
Tell us about yourselves
Kavugwi Andrew is a 25 years old gentleman. He has just completed a Bachelor’s of Science in civil engineering in JKUAT.
He is the current CEO of Byne Technologies (@bynetech), a startup IT Company. He is an innovator and an entrepreneur. His greatest strength is marketing which he wishes to pursue. Previously worked with, Kingsway business systems, The Ministry of Finance, International Christian Youthworks and several other institutions. Recently won JKUAT Tech Expo 5.0 in a team of three.
Moses Kigen: Bachelors of science Civil Engineering (cleared in December 2014)
Kigen Moses has just completed a Bachelor’s of Science in civil engineering in JKUAT. He is an innovator, a go getter and an achiever. Recently won JKUAT Tech Expo 5.0 in a team of three.
Isaac Kibet: Bachelors of Science (Chemistry) (cleared in December 2014).
Kibet is a chemist by profession. He has just completed his undergraduate in Bachelors of Science, Chemistry. He is an innovator, a go getter and an achiever. He has previously worked as a research assistant at chemistry products centre at JKUAT. Recently won JKUAT Tech Expo 5.0 in a team of three.
Tell us about your project
Our project is called Plasto-bricks: It involves developing composite construction material from plastic waste and sand. With these material we can develop different construction units like bricks, blocks, road kerbs, drainage channels, manhole covers, posts and gabbro.
Upon developing we carried out tests on the materials in the structural laboratory in JKUAT and the materials had sufficient strength to replace concrete in the day to day constructions.
With the idea of developing this composite building material, we developed models, and presented to the JKUAT Tech Expo 5.0 and we emerged the best innovators 2014.
What inspired you to come up with this project?
The state of pollution due to plastic wastes in most parts of Nairobi City as a general. Most low income residential areas like Kibera, Dandora, Kariobangi, etc. in the city greatly face the challenge of handling plastic wastes as it is evident in the pictures below.
Inadequate effort to fully deal with plastic waste pollution in Kenya. Despite the recent entry of plastic waste recyclers and the government effort to reduce, Re-use and recycle plastic wastes the plastic waste pollution is still evident. The pictures below from the Dandora dump site can elaborate that;
Pictures of the Dandora dumping site, near Nairobi
The urge to develop much cheaper construction materials.
Given the only capital input is sand and fuel, and from the model development, the capital input is very small making the products of this composite materials up to five times cheaper as compared to concrete products.
Does your project address any socio-economic challenges in Kenya if so tell us about it?
The project will in a very short duration of time clear plastic wastes off Nairobi environment. Based on the current demand which is very high prior to launching our products in the market, we will be the ones demanding for plastic waste to meet the supply.
The project reduces the bulk of plastic wastes by converting them to other more valuable products
The project will create employment to over 1,000 people within Nairobi and over 3,000 people nationally.
If you were to meet a Venture Capitalists, what reasons would you give him/her to invest in your project?
The margin profits in the sale of the product is way high and it is good for investment consideration
The project will greatly save the environment from pollution
The project will create revenue and employment for so many individuals within the city, right from the garbage collector within the city estates, making it have a greater impact on social economic wellbeing of individuals.
Have you taken any steps towards getting a Patent rights or Copyrights to this project?
We have made steps to patent claims on the composite construction material with Kenya Intellectual Property Institute, KIPI.
What were some of the challenges you’ve faced in executing your idea into a project that can be demonstrated?
There are no challenges we met so far as the product require very little capital investment and has a very small development procedure. It takes less than ten minutes to develop products like construction blocks, kerbs drainage channels etc.
Did you have any guidance or a role model that helped you along the way in executing this project from just an initial idea you had?
No we didn’t have, we developed the idea on our own
What advice can you give to fellow students (and African youths at large) out there having big ideas, but no clue on how to begin implementing it?
We would advise students to try their hands on inventions and innovations as that is what makes a difference in our community. Take the initial steps the rest will follow.