Why Plastic Waste?
“Plastiki Rafiki” was a project started by the Construction by Design (CBD) service club at the International School of Kenya. The club’s mission – design with purpose – is to improve the community through Design Thinking and Construction.
During the 2017 – 2018 academic year the club chose to focus and find design solutions to the problem of plastic waste in Kenya. Unlike more developed countries Kenya doesn’t have a widely available way to recycle plastics. Plastics are seen as waste with no value and as a result plastic litter is a common site across Kenya causing a lot of environmental problems. In 2018 the government banned plastic bags, which was one step in the right direction but there is still a mountain of plastic waste being generated and discarded including by the School community.
Open Source Plastic Recycling
We have benefited a lot from the open source plastic recycling community, in particular precious plastic. Their open source designs for a shredder, injection machine, compression and extrusion machine have allowed us to build these machines at a low cost, using 100% locally available materials and components. Furthermore, students have taken on projects to modify the machines to better suit a Kenyan context. For example, we have created a compression oven that uses charcoal briquettes to combat the high power consumption that electric ovens and are experimenting with biogas versions of the molding machines. Other projects include manual shredding and extrusion machines in efforts to make plastic recycling cheaper, suited for the local context and more environmentally friendly.
Expanding the Network
Our goal is to enable the Kenyan community to use this technology to more efficiently recycle plastic. All our profits go into machine and product development, rubbish/plastic clean up initiatives, and the promotion and funding of grassroots plastic recycling workshops through the Plastiki Rafiki Network. In this way we hope to do our bit in cleaning up Kenya, protecting our environment, empowering communities, and creating much needed local employment.