Video: We can walk on plastic pavements instead of on plastics - 2 pave a new way

Video: We can walk on plastic pavements instead of on plastics - 2 pave a new way
Source: Ghana||Edwin Appiah|
Date: 15-05-2018 Time: 11:05:24:am
Nelson Boateng (right) and Philip Owusu-Gyamfi (left)

With the country sick and tired of plastic waste and potholes, two Ghanaians in a remarkable stroke of innovation have used one problem to solve another.

Plastic waste is being recycled into durable concrete bricks used to build entire roads and fill potholes.

Nelplast plastic concrete blocks

Nelson Boateng and Philip Owusu-Gyamfi manage a barely four-year-old company, Nelplast, turning a tiny bit of Ghana's 1.7 million tonnes of plastic waste into roads.

It all began in 2013 when Nelson Boateng was driving in Ashiaman, a sprawling neighbourhood close to Tema in the Greater Accra region known for producing rappers and artistes.

There was a big national conversation on the environment and a push for Ghana to go the Rwandan way by banning plastics. Accra alone produces 300 tonnes of plastic waste a day and only 2% is recycled.

The 98% gives government and waste management companies a hard time as authorities struggle to keep the city clean.

Some landfill sites have had their fill of waste and can no longer accommodate Ghana's poor waste disposal habits.

It is a common feature in the media to hear residents often express a lungful of frustrations at city authorities for watching on while communities and busy streets are overrun by waste.

Nelson who had been working in factories since he was 13 found the conversation troubling because a ban would leave many jobless as plastic manufacturing companies would go bust.

A ban would be a game changer, he thought. Building his factory from the scratch, he has designed a recycling and process factory which mixes molten plastics with sand into concrete blocks.

Plastic waste into plastic concrete blocksNelplast plastic concrete blocks

It will take 150 degrees Celsius to do damage to the plastic concrete blocks, he told Daniel Dadzie, host of Joy FM's Super Morning Show Tuesday.

This is five times the temperature of the hottest days in Ghana - 30 degrees Celsius.

Instead of Ghana walking out on plastics, they can actually walk over plastics. His pavement blocks have paved a way to save the plastics industry and also boost the construction sector.

It is about giving waste a second chance in Ghana.

Currently, the company employs 60 workers and has 500 plastic waste collectors roaming the city early morning and late afternoon finding plastics for Nelplast.

He says his collectors are paid at least 50 cedis per day for a 100 kilos of plastic waste. Philip Owusu-Gyamfi who is the Business Development Manager said the scramble for waste is getting tough in Ghana.

"It is difficult to get pure water sachet", he said on Joy FM Super Morning Show Tuesday and indicated the company is ready to pay twice sachet water bags, as much as it would pay for any other plastic waste.

The company's products have been tested by the Ghana Highways Authority. The blocks at 40 Newton are almost three times the weight of normal pavement blocks in Ghana, he indicated.

Nelplast plastic concrete blocks

The company has paved for free some streets in Ashiaman when the municipal authorities were struggling to get the Ghana Highways Authority to fill potholes.

The car park at the Ministry of Science and Environment has been paved with the plastic concrete blocks. Philip Owusu-Gyamfi said the constructions so far are done for free - a sense of corporate social responsibility.

He is confident that once Ghanaians and the government use the plastic concrete blocks, they can galvanise the market for greater production volumes.

The Business Development Manager said the company is looking to scale up - some investments and some bigger volumes of raw material supply.