EcoBrixs aims to create green, environmentally friendly, sustainable solutions to lift people above poverty in Uganda. Frustrated by the lack of waste management systems and the devastating impact of plastic waste, EcoBrixs was founded in 2017 in Masaka. Starting by collecting plastic waste in the backyard, it grew out to one of the largest recycling facilities outside of Kampala. Members of the local community deliver plastic waste, such as empty PET-bottles, in exchange for payment at one of the Recycling Centers. At the EcoBrixs site the plastic waste is sorted and turned into new products, which contributes to the local economy.
There is no formal waste management system in Uganda, while 600 tonnes of plastic is disposed of every day. 90% of this goes to landfill or is burnt illegally. Besides this, poverty is widespread, especially among young people and vulnerable groups. A quarter of the population, 11 million people, live in poverty and 83% of 15-24-year-olds are unemployed. 80% of those who have a disability live in poverty, because they are seen as ‘unemployable’.
By paying people for every kilogram of plastic they bring, EcoBrixs is creating income opportunities for everyone, including those living in poverty. In turn, this is creating a significant impact on the local economy. Furthermore, the plastic waste problem is tackled by turning the plastic waste into new products, which are available and affordable for the local community. Products that are already being produced are bricks (the “Eco Brixs”), fence posts, and acting on the needs during the covid pandemic, face shields.
To keep making a positive impact on the environment and people’s lives, EcoBrixs needs to optimize their production process. EcoBrixs faces several (technical) challenges, such as:
To set up the closed-loop plastics system, EcoBrixs requested support from EWB-NL on these technical challenges. To address this we organized an online event targeted for passionate participants with relevant expertise and/or experience in plastics recycling to collaborate during a “mini-project”. This aims at collecting ideas and possible solutions and analyze the possibilities and constraints for three different challenges. This will help us to define the direction and scope of our long-term collaboration with EcoBrixs. When the solutions are promising, either EcoBrixs will directly implement these or we will move to the EWB-NL project execution phase (if more research and/or development is required).