• April 14, 2024
  • Last Update April 14, 2024 9:48 PM
  • Nairobi

Kisumu youth turn plastics into adorable products

By Peter Ochieng

It is common to come across plastics thrown anyhow, any time you take a walk around various estates in Kisumu City. Ultimately, these plastics prove to be environmental hazards as they block drainage and sewer lines.

Some of the plastics end up in Lake Victoria, becoming among the major polluters of the fresh water body.

According to Mr Tom Togo, former Director of Environment at the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) in Kisumu County, generation of plastic waste in Kisumu is huge.

“The generation of plastics in Kisumu town is huge. However, it is hard to clearly indicate the percentage of plastic generation because no one has come up with specific statistics. It is a lot, especially the water bottles are a nuisance,” Togo said.

That said, some youth in Manyatta estate in Kisumu are involved in recycling plastic into adorable products such as plastic beads, door knobs, earrings, cups, fruit bowls, pegs and tiles; in a bid to effectively eradicate plastics on streets, residential areas and even the Lake.

Based at the Manyatta Baptist Church, the youth under the banner of Precious Plastics are putting their creativity to good use by coming up with useful household items, and conserving the environment at the same time, the true meaning of killing two birds with one stone.

“It is a Church project, it was founded by Baptist Church Manyatta. We got some donors from Australia who donated machines. We underwent some training of 2 to 3 weeks on how to operate the machines. Most of the youth here are students,” said Okoth.

The room they operate from is dotted with various finished items, plastics and three machines. The first machine is used for shredding plastic into granules, then there’s the extrusion machine, which unfortunately broke down.

The final machine is known as injection, which alongside the hopper and the molder helps in coming up with a given end product. But where do they get the plastics for their operations?” one may ask.

“We do buy them from dumpsites, some people from around this place also bring them here and we buy. That is why if you walk around it is not easy for you to come across plastics in Manyatta. We also carry out cleanups in various places of Kisumu where we get plastics for use,” said Okoth.

The plastics came in various types, ranging from Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), High Density Polyethylene (HDP), Polypropylene (PP) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Okoth says they buy the plastics at between Sh15 to Sh20 depending with the category.

“In Kisumu County there are so many plastics lying around, and once a person gets a thinking that they are paid for; they bring and we pay them. This in itself helps in conserving the environment as people collect plastics and bring them here,” added the supervisor.

Edwin said that their products go for between Sh30 and Sh80 but they are yet to net a steady market for their items. “The donor is still standing in for us in terms of sorting out our expenses like power bills. We normally get a token of appreciation to get us going.”

Edwin Okoth estimates that they will be able to make between sh50, 000 and Sh60, 000 every month, once their products are fully embraced in the market. He said that approximately, they use between 100kgs-200kgs of plastics to come up with various commodities, every month.

Going into the future, Edwin says they intend to start producing plastic chairs, once they get bigger machines from the donors.

Mauleen Pamela works alongside Edwin at the Precious Plastic Manyatta. She is in charge of the shredding machine.

Pamela, a form four leaver said the project continues to ensure environmental conservation in Manyatta and beyond.

“Sometime back, we used to see plastics all over culverts and homesteads. But not now because people around here know that plastic in money. They collect, bring to us and we pay them. We are keeping the environment clean by preventing pollution through plastics,” she added.

In June, 2023, a mobile App (M-Taka), was launched in Kisumu to help residents to manage their plastic waste.

Benson Abila, M-Taka managing director the app, the first of its kind in Western Kenya will give locals an opportunity to sign up and receive local waste management services.

“The goal of the app is to ensure that we bridge the gap in access to recycling. We are ready to push it to 100 percent and we are here to sensitize the residents on the need to wipe out plastics amidst us.”

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