PlastiBrick, an innovative recycled plastic brick business is a project of the SAB Kickstart programme. The brick initiative has been gaining traction and was chosen as a finalist in the 2018 SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards.
SAB Kickstart is one of the country’s longestrunning and most successful youth development programmes. Started in 1995, it is aimed at creating meaningful jobs in South Africa by growing sustainable youth-owned businesses. In 2016, Kekeletso Tsiloane successfully prototyped the PlastiBrick, an invention that uses recycled plastic to manufacture stock and maxi bricks that are strong, durable, fire retardant and environmentally-friendly. We developed the PlastiBrick with the aim of reducing plastic waste. Another added benefit is that no water is used in the production of the bricks, thus helping with the preservation of water. We collect plastic from landfills, households and waste pickers and use it as raw materials,’ explains Tsiloane.
‘We aim to empower women, youth and disabled individuals. We would like to facilitate training in recycling materials and employ more women in the manufacturing of PlastiBrick. As for youth, we aim to train and employ unemployed youth and those at university. The manufacturing operation does not require much skill and therefore we would also like to employ disabled individuals,’ she adds. A PlastiBrick prototype was tested against the South African Bureau of Standards and found to be stronger and less absorbent than cement bricks. ‘Competitively, our bricks are not only environmentally friendly, but are denser and therefore have a lower water absorption rate, allowing a building to have a longer lifespan,’ says Tsiloane
Ramtsilo, the name of the business started in Sasolburg by Tsiloane to manufacture PlastiBrick, had nine permanent employees by the end of 2018. ‘We hope that the exposure given to us by the awards will give us a chance to purchase an automatic machine that will apply heat pressure to melt the plastic that will bond with other additives before it is moulded into bricks. Another benefit would be getting mentorship to assist us in growing the business as we would like to sell the technology across the continent,’ says Tsiloane. Asked about what inspired her to begin a recycled material brick business, she said, ‘My motivation was the exposure we got in the construction industry. My father had a construction company and would often take us to site. This is where my passion grew.’ The Social Innovation Awards invest in innovative business ideas that can solve social problems. This includes, but is not limited to, energy, water, health, education, housing, and food security. It targets youth between the ages of 18 and 35, has supported over 25 000 entrepreneurs and empowered over 3 500 youthowned businesses in South Africa and an additional six countries across Africa, including Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Uganda.
Taken from To Build Volume 6 Issue 3