Home Startups This Startup is Turning Plastic Waste into Bricks And Empowering Uganda’s Communities

This Startup is Turning Plastic Waste into Bricks And Empowering Uganda’s Communities

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More than 1.8 million refugees live in Uganda, making it one of the top five host countries in the world. The country’s 48 refugee settlements are mostly located in areas that are overpopulated and experiencing the worst environmental degradation.

Growing up in the Kyaka II settlement, Ronald Mgaiga, Founder of Ecomak Recyclers, a startup founded in Uganda,  experienced first-hand the effects of cholera at an early age. This left him with little chance of survival, but now he wants to improve waste management throughout the refugee settlement, encourage local businesses to have more sustainable lifestyles, and promote a circular economy. “Our mission is to help local communities by turning waste into reusable construction materials,” says Mugaiga.

Ecomac has developed a chemical-free, energy-saving abatement technology called Organotechnology that helps accelerate the melting process of plastics while preserving their physical parameters. Plastic is used to make bricks and blocks.

“This brick is twice as strong as a traditional brick,” says Mugaiga. It will not break once used, long-lasting and durable. The most compelling value proposition for using Ecomac bricks is the fact that the bricks are 30% cheaper than conventional bricks. Real estate and construction companies are the startup’s biggest customers. Uganda has a $700 million construction market. Ecomac intends to capture just 1% of this huge market over the next five years.

“Our goal is to gain market share in most of Uganda next year and expand to the rest of East Africa in two to three years,” says Ronald.

Ecomac has created over 100 jobs for underserved women and youth in the communities of Kyaka II refugee settlement. In a month they were able to collect and recycle more than 30 tons of waste while increasing their income by exchanging plastic waste for cash. The company’s impact on poverty alleviation and environmental levels is unprecedented and will surely make the world a better place!

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