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From plastic bags to waste heaps, group turns trash into cash

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2013 DAILY NATION From plastic bags to waste heaps, group turns trash into cash

At the peak of his waste management endeavours, Mr Joseph Macharia led a group of environment-friendly people to make durable plastic roofing and poles from waste material.

The group, now known as Dajopen (David, Joseph and Peter) was brought to life in 2007 by Mr Macharia, a mechanic who quit his job to venture into waste management.

“I invested Sh300,000 in the business as capital. This helped me rent a plot at Sh20,000 monthly and hire tractors to collect waste in Kitale town, Trans Nzoia County,” Mr Macharia, currently the group’s chairman, said.

He then paid Sh3,000 a trip for a hired tractor to deliver waste to his location in Kitale, “I then joined hands with Mr David Ngige, who is now the Dajopen secretary.”

Mr Ngige loved the environment and specialised in making organic manure from waste material.

The two now head a group talented in different facets of waste management. Women make baskets and interior décor from plastic bags while men make manure, roofing materials, and briquettes from waste.

Dajopen has grown since 2007 despite the election violence that shook the young group. Mr Macharia told Money that they picked themselves up and worked on getting aid from several organisations.

MILLIONS EVERY MONTH

Among the organisations that supported them are Beacon, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, and the Agriculture Ministry. They now make profit in millions every month from waste materials.

Among the unique materials they make are plastic fencing poles and roofing materials. They also make handbags, wall hangings, head gear, briquettes, and organic manure.

“We have been making about Sh2.5 million in profit monthly since inception. We share some of the proceeds with group members as dividend and use the rest to service the business,” Mr Macharia said.

He said the group ventured into fencing poles and roofing tiles because of demand by farmers in Kitale.

“Farmers in the area have vast pieces of land that they fence using poles but wooden poles are frequently worn out by rain and ants,” Mr Macharia said. “We are the main suppliers of long-lasting plastic poles in the region.”

They use about 500 tonnes of waste as raw material for the entire business.

The group has a piece of land at Industrial Area at Bidii location, Kitale town, where members meet to produce beautiful materials.

WON CERTIFICATES

Their high moment came when they were recognised for their exemplary performance in waste management by the Agrochemical Association of Kenya.

They were also awarded a certificate for emerging third in an environmental management competition early this year. Also, they were finalists in the 2012 World Habitat awards.

Dajopen has won several other certificates that have made them increase their client list.

Mr Macharia says many customers have been awed by their latest innovations from broken plastic chairs and water bottles.

“We heat up the plastic in a very large furnace, pour it into a container that helps shape it to the desired form,” he said.

“When dry, you get beautiful roofing tiles. We do the same with fencing poles. Then we sell them on order, depending on how many feet one wants for the poles and square meters for the roofing materials. We also make briquettes from the waste paper that we use to heat up the plastic materials,” he said.

The plastic poles cost Sh700 for each seven feet long pole while the roofing tiles cost Sh700 per square meter.

“We are now focused on buying a machine that will increase our output of manure, briquettes, roofing material and poles,” Mr Macharia said. For the baskets, the women collect paper bags from dust bins, wash them with a detergent and then twine them to bags.

They sell the baskets at Sh500 each, pay the women Sh300, and keep Sh200 for the group.