One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Meet Nzambi Matee. She’s an entrepreneur with an incredible goal… she wants to turn plastic destined for the landfill into sustainable, strong building material.

Nzambi is from Kenya. And it’s here where there’s a huge pollution problem.

Floating in the middle of the world’s largest ocean, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a man-made mess of plastic waste. It covers twice as much area as the state of Texas.

Well, Kenya is one of many countries contributing to this pollution.

Even though Kenya banned single use plastics back in 2017, there’s still a big problem.

But Nzambi has developed an innovative way to tackle the problem.

Her company is called Gjenge Makers. It uses plastic waste of commercial facilities to create bricks that can withstand twice the weight threshold of concrete.

See Nzambi came across a concept of using plastic to make building blocks. But it wasn’t easy at first. She says it took about nine months just to make one brick.

But now she has machines to mass produce the plastic bricks.

First the waste is sorted to remove rubble and metal. Then the plastic is baked. Then the boiling mixture is molded into building blocks. She can now churn out as many as 2,000 a day.

And get this… her bricks are 35% cheaper than standard bricks, and they’re up to seven-times stronger.

So far, Nzambi’s bricks are only being used for pathways in small households. But her plan is to target big construction companies.

Officials say they need more ideas like this.

Not only is Kenya struggling to handle its own plastic problem, but it’s dealing with our’s too. That’s right. Two years ago, the United States exported more than one billion pounds of plastic waste to 96 nations, including Kenya. Now Washington wants to make the shipment of more plastic waste a condition of a proposed trade deal.

“The more we recycle the plastic, the more we produce affordable housing,” Nzambi says. “The more we create more employment for the youth.”

sources: waste 360, design boom, world architecture, ecowatch