The more we know and do, the better we all will be.

«

»

Jan 10

How Paving Stones Can Be Manufactured From Waste Plastic

Quite the innovative solution to the growing problem of a gloomy future with all of us being smothered by heaps of plastic. The problem of too much plastic being used has been ongoing for quite a while now, especially in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa where literally millions of plastic items are improperly disposed of on a daily basis. This in turn leads to the local environment receiving a heavy toll in terms of water, air and soil pollution. But there is a ray of hope.

In the past few years there have been a lot of initiatives across the globe from people in Africa to even America coming up with striking ways to make paving stones and other such building materials from (predominantly plastic) garbage.

paving stones from waste plastic

Image courtesy: http://observers.france24.com/

 

However contrary to what you might think, there has not been an awakening about the plastic problem on a worldwide basis, which is yet to come. Regardless, however small and little it may be, a start is a start. Let’s take a look at how it happened.

  • The birth of the idea: The amazing part of this is that this initiative seem to have been taken up only by a few countries of the African continent with almost no other place in the world with the exception of America (Albany) and the idea of building cement from landfill waste. Rather surprising considering how much of a problem plastic waste is in general. The main countries involved in this initiative are Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
  • The innovator: Pierre Kamsouloum, a Cambodian entrepreneur who was the brains behind this innovative idea back in 2013, joined hands with an international NGO called Living Earth Foundation who were similar work in African cities with regard to the businesses that controlled waste recycling. From that moment onwards, he has travelled to Sierra Leone and Nigeria as well, spreading the word about his innovative idea, not to mention also training over 100 people in the ways of his new technology.
  • The process: Pierre himself stated “As kids, we would collect plastic cups and melt them in the wood fires used to heat our homes during the winter. We’d mix the melted plastic with water and shape it into small balls. We had a game of rolling them along with sticks. One day, about 15 years ago, I was thinking of this childhood memory and I came up with the idea of mixing sand into melted salvaged plastic to make a solid, durable material. I imagined using it to make paving slabs. The same method could be used to design tiles. However, the quality may not be on a par with what outdoor tiles Sydney-based manufacturers offer, but this factor can be overlooked to an extent.

He went on to say “There are several steps to production. The plastic serves to bind the materials together. But before you can use it, you have to separate out any plastic containing chlorine because it becomes toxic if it’s chemically altered. The rest is then melted in a vat over a wood fire. You then add sand and mix it. Then, you pour the mix into a mould and let it dry for 15 minutes.”

  • Further initiatives: Apart from taking care of the plastic problem, Pierre has also trained and employed street children as well plus he also started a public awareness campaign in 2 schools, teaching children the value of collecting and sorting out recycled plastic in their own neighborhoods.

Image courtesy: http://observers.france24.com/

 

The final fact of the matter is that the paving stones made by this particular method of melting plastic happen to be more solid and cheaper than the typical paving slabs one would usually find. While being quite the surprising and pleasant surprise from halfway across the globe, the fact that whether or not more people start waking up to the fact of plastic being extremely hazardous and follow in the footsteps of the Africans still remains to be seen.

One can only hope though as enough people around the world have praised the overall success of this project, even though there is much more that still needs to be done.

1 comment

  1. Daniel Mkongo

    I’m interested in starting a similar project in Mombasa county, Kenya. Connect me to a resource person.

Leave a Reply