Entrepreneur Recycles Plastic Waste in Kenya

Connector Fall 2016

Plastic littering the streets of Kariobangi is an eyesore for many residents. But for Aghan Oscar it spells opportunity.

Thirteen years ago, Aghan, bothered by the ever-increasing quantity of plastic waste in this low-income suburb of Nairobi, decided to find a way to recycle it.

Now his company, Continental Renewable Energy (COREC), produces poles for use in construction, farming, and road signage. So far he’s sold 96,000, and he says his potential for growth is limited only by the considerable expense of setting up plastic recycling plants.

Most of Aghan’s customers are farmers and developers who once used wooden fence poles. COREC’s solid black polythene poles are more durable and cheaper than timber, he says.

The Kenya National Highways Authority is one of COREC’s biggest customers. It approached the company after road signs were vandalized by criminals who sold the metal poles to steel manufacturing companies.

“When I started this recycling venture in 2003, most of my employees were my family members due to financial constraints,” Aghan said. Now he employs 250 young people to collect plastic waste – the first step in the production process.

Fifty more youths work on the production line, where the waste is sorted according to quality before being crushed and washed, melted and moulded into different shapes. The poles are then arranged by shape and size for sale in the yard of the recycling plant.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – http://news.trust.org/climate