8 October 2017

Rwanda: Local Company Turns Plastic Waste Into Furniture, Pavers

A local firm engaged in waste collection, management and recycling, AGRUNI Company Ltd is recycling wastes and turning them into valuable products such as chairs, tables, basins, water pipes and pavers.

The plastic wastes collected for recycling include used jelly cans, yogurt bottles, lotion bottles, among others.

Plastic waste don't completely bio degrade; something that harms both animals and human health, and drastically endangers our environment.

The problem is that our landfills are running very short of space, experts in engineering, and environmental impact assessment worried during the recent Africa Engineering Conference and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Africa Engineering Week, 2017 which was held under the theme "Effective Waste Management in Africa."

As a result, the experts contend, new landfills are created which in the end hurt the environment, necessitating recycling for the production of new products as a solution to the problem.

Nduba dumpsite in Gasabo District, Kigali, for example, receives about 400 tonnes of unsorted waste of which, 5% is plastic wastes amounting to some 20 tonnes per day. This implies that estimated 7300 tons of plastics are dumped at the site per year.

"We collect waste from homes, around the City, and it's from such waste that we make these plastic objects. There is enough plastic wastes that we need to make products," said John Furaha, who is in-charge of recycling at AGRUNI.

The company has been in waste collection and transportation services over th e last 14 years, but engaged in waste recycling for the last two years, according to Furaha.

The company was started in 2002 in Rubavu District, Western Provinceby Jean Paul Ngenzi Shiraniro, after being demobilised from Rwanda Defence Force (RDF).

The aim was to offer various services including environment care services, creating employment opportunity, promoting social economic development, collection and transportation of liquid waste and waste to energy.

AGRUNI has the capacity to make about 3,000 chairs per day, for Rwf4,700 each, compared to others which are sold at Rwf6,000 each. But, he explained that the production depends on the market demand. It also makes some 100 tables per day.

"The market so far is good; especially in Kigali, Rubavu, and Gitarama (Muhanga District), and Eastern Province. The chairs are used in churches, bars... " he said.

For pavers, the company has a capacity to produce 200 square metres per day.

To produce pavers to cover one square meter, he said, 30 kilogrammes of plastic waste is melted and mixed with 20 kilogrammes of sand.

He said that the machines the company uses to recycle the plastic wastes are imported from India and Belgium.

It has 21 permanent technicians, and 51 casual labourers engaged in waste recycling services.

Moreover, the company makes small-sized water pipes, with capacity to produce 40 rolls of 100 meters length each, per day.

"We plan to make big-sized water pipes," he said.

In addition, he said, that the company makes organic fertiliser from organic waste which has started being used in gardens in Northern Province's Musanze District, and that the results have been promising for increased crop productivity.

Furaha, who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Rwanda's College of Science and Technology where he graduated in 2014, said that the main challenge they face in recycling process is lack of enough electricity.

Through her presentation "Waste Management & Environment," during the engineers' conference, Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, Director General for Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), challenged engineers and government officials in Africa to engineer the most cost effective and environmental friendly, as well as socially acceptable systems.

She called for vestment in the sector of waste management, make a good use of Waste and generate green jobs reduce reuse, recycle principle.

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