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Enterprise

Hawker makes good money from recycled plastic waste

Francis Mureithi at his yard in Karatina town,
Francis Mureithi at his yard in Karatina town, Nyeri County. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI 

As the country forges towards doing away with plastic pollution, Francis Muriithi is steps ahead in the plastic recycling business.

Starting off as a hawker in Karatina town Nyeri County 12 years ago, Mr Muriithi has turned collecting trash into a fortune.

“We came together as a team to clean up the town by collecting garbage for a little fee but did not live up the task as some members left,” said Mr Muriithi.

Once his teammates left, Mr Muriithi started collecting garbage with zeal including scrap metals. “I used to deliver scrap metals to dealers within town but I realised that there were lots of plastic bottles in the trash. I seized the opportunity and created my own path of success,” he told Enterprise.

Mr Muriithi, an employer of four people, is currently the sole plastic collector in Karatina town.

He buys a kilogramme of the waste at Sh10 and sells them in Nairobi.

“After the initial stockpile I thought if there was a market for scrap metal there must be one for plastics hence the decision to travel to Nairobi. It bore fruits and I have not looked back since then,” he said. He earns about Sh5,000 from a tonne of the waste while a tonne of bones fetches Sh12,000. The most lucrative waste however is scrap metals which earn him between Sh20,000 and Sh30,000 per tonne, with a lorry carrying 12 tonnes. All he needs to recycle the waste are fire, some chemicals, sand and a mould.

“I usually light a wood fire and melt the plastics in a large metal drum, add some sand and metal salts, then pour the boiling liquid into the mould. I then leave it to dry for about three days,” explained Mr Muriithi.

He said that he can make up to 500 ventilation blocks from the waste which he distributes to hardware shops.

Mr Mureithi has faced a myriad of challenges trying to market his products as many people do not believe in plastic ventilation blocks.

He said he had to convince potential buyers of the advantages of using materials made from plastic.

“They did not trust my blocks because they were competing against a commodity that has been used for eons, but they have now started trusting my invention because almost every hardware in Karatina is stocking the blocks,” he said.

The advantage of using plastic ventilation blocks is that they do not crack or flake like cement blocks.

He also makes poles from plastic and sells each at Sh600.

“I intend to diversify my business to produce more items hence the need to invest in moulds,” he said.

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