In Burundi, there aren’t many like Jean Marie NIZIGIYIMANA. Producing pavement tiles from plastic waste roomed in his mind in 2018 when he graduated from the Polytechnic University of Gitega, in the Department of Water, Pollution and Sanitation. So as to put into practice the theoretical notions learnt in the classroom at the university, he did extensive research on the recycling of plastic waste as it is one of the types of solid wastes which are of national and global concern nowadays. In May 2019, after his company JENI-ECO COMPANY was registered, he went on activities and he is currently producing a variety of pavement tiles, just using hands.
From theory to practice
In 2018, after his university studies, Jean Marie NIZIGIYIMANA came up with the idea of launching the waste management program in the city of Gitega. “I shared it with some of my peers. We got the authorization from the municipal administration which gave us the Nyamugari Quarter, in the project we called TUBE HEZA“, he recalls.
Shortly after that initiative of collecting and managing waste, the project expanded in the whole town of Gitega. By then, Jean Marie took a time to analyze the mountains of waste that were collected in different parts of the city. He sat down pondering on the future of these dumbs scattered in the city. He thought about recycling plastic waste. “I did an extensive research on the recycling of plastic waste (that I do today) and I started activities in May 2019“, he informs.
His initiative has its roots in the theoretical concepts that he learned at the university and his passion for protecting the environment that he had, even before. As he did research from January 2019, he was lucky to benefit further knowledge from the help of the friends of his from countries like Canada, Norway, and United States of America. “They provided me with decent ideas on recycling several kinds of waste. After trying for many times, I came up with a type of pavement tile that I am producing today“, he rejoices.
The fruit of a hard work
As Jean Marie indicates, he gets raw materials from two sources. “There are associations that collect waste. These are my first sources of supply. Then, we have young children who can collect plastic waste, where associations have not reached. The latter bring the plastic waste and sell them to my company“, he precises.
He explains how he is making his products. “Tiles come from a process of melting a given quantity of plastic waste mixed with other materials like sand. Once the mixture is ready, it is passed through a metallic mold to give it a particular shape. After the molding, there is no need to put them under the sun. Our pavement tiles are thus sold by square meter. 1m2 is sold at BIF 2,500“
“Comparable to tiles made from cement, he adds, tiles from recycling plastic waste are of a tougher hardness. They can even support vehicles transporting heavy goods without any harm. We therefore welcome anyone who wants to pave their plot. We also welcome those who want to pave the car parks of their hotels, restaurants, bars, the front of houses near the roads, etc“.
Jean Marie NIZIGIYIMANA affirms that three main objectives are behind what they are doing. “Firstly, our work subscribes to the framework of environmental protection by reducing the quantity of plastic waste of all kinds in order to decrease atmospheric pollution (from waste that was burned in the environment), water pollution (from plastic waste poured into rivers and lakes by runoff when it is raining), soil pollution (from plastic waste mixed with the soil which reduce soil productiveness. Secondly, our work contributes to the reduction of the unemployment rate in Burundi by creating jobs. Lastly, we want to prove to the Burundian youth that nothing is impossible for the ones who have courage and determination“, he reveals.
Nevertheless, our innovator Jean Marie NIZIGIYIMANA regrets that their production is still limited for they’re using hands because of the lack machines. In this regard, he asks investors, supporters and other who may help them to get the machines to give them a hand. “Our work is so far manual and the production is quite limited. Also we are still working in one province among the 18 provinces of our country. If we work fully by using hands, we can recycle 5 tons of plastic waste per month, which is our impact today. But once we get machines, we will move from one province to five, recycling more than fifty tons (50T) of plastic waste per month, and from five employees to more than twenty five“, he mentions.
Jean Marie NIYONIZIGIYE is one of the young Burundians whose projects can be supported for they not only contribute to the country’s development but also create jobs and reduce the unemployment rate.