Turning plastic waste, water hyacinth into cheap building blocks


Mr Nyagwachi Obiero of Moi University. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

As he walked around, Nyawachi Obiero realised the eye sore that was the plastic waste. Water hyacinth was also another challenge that he thought he could find a solution.

Mr Obiero finally decided the best way out was to convert the plastic waste and water hyacinth into something useful. That is how he came up with the idea of turning them into raw materials for building blocks.

He partnered with Moi University in the project that he says will go a long way in addressing pollution.

Mr Obiero, 34, says the innovation is not only a smart way to deal with solid waste menace, it is also a means to provision of decent, affordable housing in the country and Africa at large.

“I was motivated to come up with the innovation to address the effects of climate change and water hyacinth in our lakes,” says Mr Obiero who did undergraduate studies in Material Science from Egerton University in 2014.

He has also trained as an aeronautical engineer at Eldoret Aviation college.

“This is the solution to the climate crisis and also supports the construction industry,” notes Mr Obiero, who runs a green startup known as Femto Industries.

“These blocks have better qualities compared to the construction materials in terms of resistance to weather and weight to volume ratio. The costs are also 55 per cent cheaper than the common imported and or mined construction materials.”

The blocks, he notes, are also cost-effective in that they interlock reducing the need for the cement by 46 percent on walling.

He transforms hyacinth bio-mass into an alternative material for mahogany wood in construction.

“It is stronger and more weather resistant and affordable compared to mahogany. The cost is cheaper by 25 per cent on average compared to what’s in the market,” he observes.

Already, Mr Obiero says that he has patented the innovations and is in the process of commercialising the eco-friendly materials in the market.

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