Added: Feb 17, 2021
Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
Arena Recycling collects plastic waste from beaches in Dar es Salaam to produce building materials for construction of affordable houses, toilets and other buildings
Approximately 740 tonnes of plastic waste are thrown out in Dar es Salaam every day. It blocks drains, contributing to devastating floods during the rainy season, and ends up in watercourses causing harm to marine life. At the same time, Tanzania has a housing deficit of some 1.2 million units. An estimated thirty-six percent of the shortfall is concentrated in Dar es Salaam, where most people are unable to afford building materials. Plastic waste is one possible input to produce affordable construction materials to help resolve the country’s housing crisis.
Arena Recycling was founded in 2018 and now recycles between 500 and 1000kg of plastics per week. They melt and extrude LDPE and PET plastics to produce both construction blocks and paving slabs. Their Eco-bricks consist of 80% plastic waste and 20% sand and contain neither water nor cement. The bricks are waterproof, anti-corrosive and mould resistant. Arena Recycling has experimented to develop its own formula to melt and mix the materials, giving them the required properties to meet Tanzanian construction standards. To collect plastic waste, Arena Recycling organises campaigns for beach cleanup around marine areas, which serves the additional purpose of educating and promoting behaviour change in waste disposal. They also purchase plastics from community collectors. Arena Recycling has partnered with Young Water Solutions Organisation, an NGO, to collaborate with the municipality and the community members of Temeke District to construct 12 pit latrines and two water tanks for 2000 students. The Tanzania Bureau of Standards is currently verifying the Eco-bricks for certification.
This case study has been created as part of Footprints Africa's work to build the first ever comprehensive mapping of circular economy initiatives in Africa. This will lay the foundation open-source database that can inspire local initiatives, as well as inform the global dialogue, which is largely focused on the European and American contexts. We are doing this in collaboration with the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN). ACEN's vision is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity inclusive of all its people through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources.
The objective is to build an open-source database featuring 500 cases by the end of 2021, with strong regional representation. These will feature in the Knowledge Hub and are also being mapped by GRID-Arendal.
construction and infrastructure
Dar es Salaam