A young recycling company, Mr. Green Africa, is bringing social, economic and environmental benefits to the region in which it operates. Since 2014, Mr. Green Africa, established in Nairobi, Kenya, has been building a collection and sorting system for industrial and household plastic waste throughout the Greater Nairobi area. Today, the company has grown into one of the main employers in the region, with over 100 permanent employees and an additional 2,000 "waste pickers".
By upgrading the waste collection activities, the company aims in the future to enable the many "waste pickers" to receive fair and stable wages. The company has designed a human-centred business model, in which the informal waste pickers- 'invisible heroes who have languished at the bottom of the waste hierarchy for too long' - can trade directly with Mr. Green Africa. It is a mechanism, says the company, that 'gives these invisible heroes a rare opportunity to improve their lives'.
The company recently expanded its activities from only selling washed flakes to producing regranulate directly on site. Prior to investing in new recycling equipment, the company had the Institute for Polymer Materials and Testing at the Johannes Kepler University Linz conduct a material analysis, to assess which technology was needed to produce high-quality regranulate, taking into account the contamination level of the input materials.
Keiran Smith, CEO of the recycler explained his company's requirements: "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."
The company finally opted for an Intarema 1108 TVEplus RegrindPro equipped with a laser filter, an Erema system, tailored for processing of post-consumer materials. The system can process up to 500 kg HDPE and up to 600 kg PP plastic from household waste per hour into regranulate . Erema CEO Manfred Hackl was immediately enthousiastic about becoming a technology supplier for Mr. Green Africa.
"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," he said.
Unilever Africa has become one of the first regional customers. The company is packaging its Sunlight scouring powder in packaging made from 100% recyclate from Mr. Green Africa. The new 500 gram and one-kilogram packs will be on sale in Kenya and rest of the region. According to Unilever, the move will mitigate the use of thousands of tonnes of virgin plastic each year, once the transition is completed.