Massive international interest is being attracted by a business idea in Nairobi, Kenya, which is unique in the plastics industry. Starting in 2014, the start-up company Mr. Green Africa has succeeded in establishing a collection and sorting system for plastics from industrial and household waste in the greater Nairobi area. The company is interested in upgrading the waste collection system to provide the many “waste pickers” with fair and stable pay. Today, Mr. Green Africa is an important employer in the region with over 100 permanent employees and almost 2,000 “waste pickers”.
As of February, the young entrepreneurs have expanded their business model and no longer sell only washed flakes, but now recycle directly on site at their plant in Nairobi. The Institute for Polymer Materials and Testing at the Johannes Kepler University Linz carried out material analysis in advance to specify the recycling technology needed to achieve high quality recyclate despite the level of contamination of the input material. In the end they chose to go the Intarema 1108 TVEplus RegrindPro with laser filter by Erema.
“When choosing the recycling technology, the decisive factor for us was that HDPE and PP material can be processed on the same line. With HDPE we collect all types of packaging, including canisters and bottles, which are often contaminated with paper labels and printing inks. Despite different input materials and their varying quality, we have to meet the demands of our customers and deliver a consistent quality of recyclate output,” explains Mr. Green Africa CEO Keiran Smith.
Following their initial discussions it was clear to Erema Group CEO Manfred Hackl that Erema definitely wanted supply technology to Mr. Green Africa. “Keiran Smith and Karim Debabe captivated me with their business idea from the very first second. As far as I know, setting up a company with such an effective social impact is unique in the plastics recycling sector and could serve as a model for other regions,” says Hackl.
Regional buyers for the recyclate were quickly found, such as Unilever Africa. The packaging of the new Sunlight scouring powder, which was launched at the beginning of the year, consists 100 percent of material recycled by Mr. Green. “The launch of the first truly circular plastic packaging for Sunlight scouring powder in Kenya is a great win for the environment and goes a long away in our quest to ensure that plastic only remains in our economy and stays clear of the environment,” says Bruno Witvoet, President Unilever Africa.