One of the biggest challenges that have engaged the attention of policymakers, politicians, governments, and stakeholders is plastic waste management, according to Face2FaceAfrica. Each day, tons of waste are generated globally, with some ending up in the oceans, thereby affecting aquatic lives.
The challenge is more pronounced in developing countries or third-world states. Although several initiatives have been rolled out by African governments to deal with the menace of plastic waste, the problem persists.
Nelson Boateng, a Ghanaian eco-entrepreneur, is leading the way in the secondary usage of plastic waste. He is the founder of Nelplast Eco Ghana Limited, a plastics recycling company that transforms plastic waste into building materials.
Becoming an Eco-Entrepreneur
Nelson Boateng, born and bred in Ashaiman, Greater Accra, is a product of the Ashiaman Senior High School.
After his secondary education, he didn’t move straight into any tertiary institution but decided to work for some time. He got a job in a plastic company that made polythene bags, plastic bowls, rubber buckets, among others.
That was the unpopular yet rewarding move Nelson made.
Nelson, as industrious as he has always been, worked with the company for eight years and rose to become the manager. During this period, he took a diploma course in Network Engineering at Blue Crest College in Accra.
While managing the plastic company, a situation arose between the owners of the company that eventually led to its dissolution. But for someone who has been interested in entrepreneurship since age 14, it became an opportunity for him to set the stage for his dreams to become a reality.
Nelson decided not to enter any industry other than the one he already knew—plastics. He set up Nelplast Ghana Eco Limited in 2014 which started producing polybags and other plastics.
He was, however, not really satisfied doing the same thing over and over again. He wanted to change the direction of the business and do something innovative that will tend to solve a problem in the community.
He began reading and researching what other things plastics can be used for that will be friendly to the environment. That was when he came up with a unique paste which is a mixture of sand and plastics to make bricks. Now having discovered what he wants to do, he moved straight into it, and that was the beginning of his to use plastics to build houses and roads.
Last year, he was named alongside the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President Akufo Addo and others as the Top 50 African Disruptors of 2020.
Ghana’s Plastic House
In an interview with TV3’s Portia Gabor, Boateng revealed that he used some 13,400 kilos of plastic waste collected from gutters and beaches in the country to build a house. Indeed, it is regarded as the first house to be constructed using plastic waste in Ghana.
The 36-year-old began the initiative between 2015 and 2016 when there was fierce media debate on the need to ban plastic waste so as to make the city clean. “When the government was trying to say let’s ban plastic and I also heard the news that plastic is choking gutters, causing flood, deaths and other things, I also felt very bad,” he said.
Driven by the motivation to preserve the environment, Nelson came up with an idea that would be more sustainable and usable in such a way that it will not cause further pollution.
He set up a bricks manufacturing center that converts plastic waste into blocks for building. The bricks, Nelson explained, are not made with mortar and have the ability to withstand earthquakes or tremors. According to him, the plastic blocks could also be used as foundation bricks in waterlogging or salty areas.
For those expressing fears that the building material could attract heat thereby making the room excessively hot, Nelson said you should not worry. He indicated that the bricks are designed in such a way that they provide a cool temperature.
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