A Kenyan solution to the problem of transporting and disposing of plastic waste could be in the offing after firms partnered to launch the Beyond Baling Innovation Challenge on March 5.
The competition that will run up to May is targeting innovators from universities and colleges, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the Jua Kali sector.
Driven by plastic waste recycle social enterprise T3 (Trash Thread Textile), the aim of the challenge is to seek an innovative way of providing baling to the plastic waste management industry. Eventually, it seeks to create a baling company in Kenya, by Kenyans as a means of evolving a baling industry in the country.
Baling involves the compression of bulky materials into easier packages. The technique is popular among hay farmers, but also functions with plastic waste management.
Three winners, in the categories of Manual Baler, Renewable Energy Powered Baler and Grid Powered Baler, will be picked.
T3 chief executive Gupreet Kenth said, “PET plastic is bulky therefore a challenge to transport. Due to this, we need to compress and bale it. Instead of importing balers, we wish to tap into our abundant local resources to innovate local balers and encourage baler manufacturing in Kenya.”
We are calling innovations from universities, colleges SMEs and the Jua Kali sectors to participate in this competition and come up with balers. @KAM_kenya @PETCOKenya @unep #BalersInnovationChallengeKE#JengaBalers pic.twitter.com/hp8hwXQnCN
— Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Kenya (@CCBAinKenya) March 5, 2019
The T3 firm, which is part of the Megh Group, is looking to recycle 25 tons of plastic and convert them into textile, Gupreet Kenth said.
“Beyond baling is setting up the industry and incubating these people into a successful industry and buying back these balers,” she said.
Environment Chief Administrative Secretary Mohamed Elmi, who officially launched the challenge, said the government would be in support of the innovation and seek ways to partner.
The challenge is also in partnership with Coca Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) and plastic recycling firm PETCO Kenya.
“I’m really excited… this is going to be a unique platform. It’s fantastic we can make a baler from Kenya, supported by Kenyans rather than supporting the rest from the world,” Coca Cola Beverages Africa Managing Director Daryl Wilson said.
United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Country Coordinator Dr Cyrille-Lazare Siewe commended the innovation for being sensitive to the creation of jobs even as it was a business.