Meet the Woman Who Turned Plastic into Paving, Got Awarded by UN

Estimated read time 2 min read

In a world grappling with environmental challenges, some individuals stand out for their innovative solutions and dedication. Meet Nzambi Matee, a lesser-known yet profoundly impactful figure whose work in recycling has paved the way for a sustainable future.

From Engineer to Environmentalist

Nzambi Matee, a Kenyan material engineer and entrepreneur, started her journey with a simple observation: the streets of Nairobi were littered with plastic waste. Disturbed by the environmental degradation and driven by a passion to make a difference, Nzambi embarked on a path that would not only address the waste problem but also revolutionize the way we think about recycling.

The Birth of Gjenge Makers

Nzambi founded Gjenge Makers, a social enterprise in Nairobi, with a mission to tackle plastic waste in a novel way. Gjenge Makers recycles plastic waste into durable and affordable building materials, specifically paving bricks that are stronger and more cost-effective than their conventional counterparts.

The Innovation

Nzambi’s innovation lies in her method of using a mix of plastic waste and sand, compressed and heated to create sturdy bricks. These bricks are not only eco-friendly but also several times stronger than concrete paving blocks. Nzambi’s solution addresses two critical issues: reducing plastic waste and providing affordable building materials.

Impact and Recognition

The impact of Gjenge Makers has been profound. By turning tons of plastic waste into useful products, Nzambi’s initiative has not only cleaned up the streets of Nairobi but also provided employment opportunities in her community. Her work has garnered international recognition, earning her prestigious awards and accolades, including the Young Champions of the Earth Award by the United Nations Environment Programme.

A Source of Inspiration

Nzambi Matee’s story is a powerful example of how innovative thinking and determination can create impactful change. Her journey from observing a problem to creating a solution that benefits both the environment and society is a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and environmentalists worldwide.

Nzambi Matee’s innovative approach to tackling plastic waste stands as a beacon of hope and a model of sustainable entrepreneurship. Her story reminds us that with creativity, commitment, and courage, it is possible to turn even the most challenging situations into opportunities for positive change.

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