Driven by the need to stop pollution of the environment in the country, preserve natural resources, and increasing awareness about the benefits of recycling, the market for recycled PET in Kenya is growing. Megh Group company T3 (EPZ) Limited is going to install the first PET recycling system for bottle-grade rPET and resin in Kenya and Eastern Africa, a Starlinger recoSTAR PET 165 HC iV+ recycling line, in Athi River just outside Nairobi. The food-safe rPET will be used in bottle preform production and for polyester fibre production in the textile and garment industries as well as for the group’s automotive trims and textile business Megh Singh Cushion Makers. T3 sources the post-consumer PET bottles for recycling through various collection strategies. With thorough collection and sorting methods and processing on the FDA and EFSA-approved Starlinger recycling system T3 ensures that the produced rPET resin will be of highest quality to meet the standards of global brand owners such as Coca-Cola.
“As we were trying to develop a project to produce our own textiles for the automotive sector, we realized that there is a big need for recycled materials in the textile and packaging industry”, explained Gurpreet Kaur Kenth, COO of T3. “Given the global shift from virgin to recycled materials with increasing consumer awareness and demand for sustainable products, there is growing need for recycled polyester in Kenya. We see the opportunity of closing the loop in Kenya through bottle-to-bottle recycling and have a number of reasons why we started this project. The main one is the impact we can have both on the environment and the local communities. Recycling is one of the most effective ways to reduce waste and conserve natural resources. When bottles are recycled, we are reducing the need for new raw materials. This helps conserve non-renewable resources such as oil and natural gas, which are used to make plastic. At the same time, bottle collection provides a source of income for the informal sector of waste pickers.”
The plastics recycling industry in Kenya is still in its early stages and faces challenges such as lack of input material and infrastructure, low levels of investment, and limited access to market information. T3 has developed an extensive collection system throughout the country with the aim of building the right incentives for waste collectors, who are extremely marginalised. “Our social mission is to ensure that no one is left behind as we develop the idea of a circular economy in Kenya”, said Ikreet Kenth, CTO of T3. “Uplifting the informal sector through the impactful methods that we use to collect the plastic waste enhances livelihoods by converting waste into a tradeable commodity, forming new trading networks and businesses, and generating employment. In addition, the reduction in the need for new raw materials helps to reduce environmental pollution and the carbon footprint, and to conserve resources for future generations.”
Asked why T3 opted for a Starlinger system, Gurpreet Kenth said: “Starlinger is a leading supplier of recycling technology for plastics and has decades of experience in the field. The company has a strong track record of delivering high-quality recycling solutions with recycling lines that are designed using the latest technology. They provide great ongoing support, have top-tier engineers who ensure the machines are made to perfection, and value customer relations a lot. Starlinger is a company that wants to build relations and make a difference in the world. Our shared values convinced us to go ahead with their technology. Our goal has always been to put Kenya on the global map when it comes to recycling, and being the first company in Kenya to produce not only rPET but food-grade recycled resin will help us to achieve that.”
Megh Group is a family-owned group of companies based in Nairobi, Kenya, and is currently being operated by the third generation. The first company of the group, Megh Singh Cushion Makers Ltd., was incorporated in 1961 and today is a leading manufacturer of automotive and trim components for all types of vehicles and motorcycles in Kenya and Eastern Africa. The youngest group member, T3 (EPZ) Limited, was founded to tackle the three main problems Kenya is facing today: poverty, unemployment, and plastic pollution. T3 will provide recycled PET for use in bottle-to-bottle, yarn, and textile production. It will continue the family tradition as a social impact business that reduces environmental impacts within the industry and creates social benefits by collecting and converting waste into a recycled product that can be used in sustainable packaging and textiles production.