11 August 2018

Rwandan Engineer Recycles Glass to Make Eco-Friendly Bricks

Photo: Diane Mushimiyimana/The New Times
The firm is exhibiting its concrete bricks at the ongoing expo in Gikondo.

Disposal of tonnes of waste glass is a major environmental challenge but one Rwandan says he has found an answer by recycling glasses and ceramic waste.

Eng. Aimable Mutabazi, 32, a graduate from the University of Rwanda, set up a brick manufacturing and construction company, Byiza Vuba Ltd, where glass bottles and ceramics are recycled to make glass concrete bricks.

"The glass aggregate we use comes from used glasses and bottles, windows and car windshields. Once the glass becomes waste, it creates a problem as it does not decompose. We use that waste glass in concrete as partial replacement of cement, it helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and glass waste dumping all over the place," he said.

The construction company is just seven months old but has already contributed much in glass waste collection at Kigali's public dumpsite at Nduba. It uses modern technology to mix glass waste with other materials such as sand and cement to make bricks.

Mutabazi explained that the mixture is compressed in a machine which results in a compacted brick of high density.

"Compared to other bricks available on the local market, ours are very cheap. For instance, for a house that costs 30 million, for us we can complete it for Rwf10 million. This means our clients save up to 50 per cent," Mutabazi said.

He says he conceived the idea in 2010 when he was a second year student of civil engineering at the University of Rwanda.

Mutabazi said that, apart from waste management, they also add colours to their bricks which greatly enhances the aesthetic appeal of the concrete.

He claims that his technology reduces cement, paint and labour costs by 50 per cent compared to other bricks. Normally, many brick manufacturing entities use fire but their technology does not require any source of energy to come up with solid bricks.

"When building we utilise our interlocking bricks without adding cement and reinforce the walls with rebar, both horizontally and vertically, adding to the strength and making the structure earthquake resistant.

Mutabazi is currently showcasing his innovation at the ongoing Rwanda International Trade Fair at Gikondo Expo Grounds.

"Many people are interested in our products. So far, in two weeks we have got four clients who want us to build houses for them using our bricks but we hope to get even more because many are taking our contacts," he said.

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