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Kenyan Woman Invents Sustainable Bricks, Reusing Tons Of Plastic Waste

“Let’s turn trash into cash,” proudly declares Kenyan woman, Nzambi Matee, who found an ingenious way to convert plastic waste into building materials.


In 2017, Matee opened a factory called Gjenge Makers in Nairobi. There the workers mix plastic waste with sand and heat the mixture up at very high temperatures. This results in creating a brick that is five to seven timess stronger than your average concrete brick. Overall, is it a more affordable and sustainable construction material.

Plastics that had been originally used for everyday objects, such as milk and shampoo bottles, cereal and sandwich bags, buckets, and ropes, are brought to Gjenge Makers, which currently provides 112 jobs to the local area.

While these plastic materials are deemed as not being able to be processed or recycled by other facilities, Gjenge Makers converts the trash into 1,500 bricks daily, all in different varieties of colors and sizes.

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Matee has a background as a materials engineer and she designed the factory’s machinery herself. She was motivated to make an impact on plastic pollution, after becoming discouraged by the lack of action taken by government officials. 

“I was tired of being on the sidelines…We decided what more we could do instead of just sitting on the sideline and complaining.”

Nzambi Matee
UN Environment Programme

20 tons of plastic waste have been converted into reusable construction materials by Gjenge Makers since their opening. Future plans for the factory include adding a larger production line, which would triple the factory’s production.

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Written by Abigale Racine